Redrawing History:Exhibit One

Lenape Creation Story. Weshoyot Alvitre (2019). Ink on paper.

In last month’s post, I provided some updates on the status of the graphic novel, Ghost River: The Fall and Rise of the Conestoga (Native Realities Press, 2019), which sits at the center of Redrawing History: Indigenous Perspectives on Colonial America. This month, I’m happy to offer updates on another major component of the project: a forthcoming public art exhibition hosted at the Library Company of Philadelphia (November 2019-April 2020).

Redrawing History will place original art commissioned for Ghost River into conversation with the rich historical records at the Library Company. Juxtaposing the library’s expansive holdings in political cartoons, broadsides, and pamphlets with the penciled, inked, and colored art of Weshoyot Alvitre, this exhibition will challenge patrons to consider archival gaps, silences, and erasures; to reinterpret Pennsylvania’s history of exploration, settlement, and conquest; and to entertain new possibilities for the present through partnerships between scholars, artists, and previously marginalized communities.

As the curator of that exhibition, I will rely upon the expertise of both our artist and a dedicated exhibition designer. Of course, we already have an extraordinary artist, Weshoyot Alvitre. However, when it comes to making the most of the Library Company’s admittedly modest exhibition space, we wanted to ensure that we enlisted a designer with both a commitment to our project and its values as well as a wealth of experience with other Philadelphia cultural heritage institutions.

To that end, we drafted up and widely circulated a request for proposals for which we received numerous strong responses. In fact, half a dozen designers visited the Library Company and conducted a walkthrough of the exhibition space with our project team and conservation staff.

After a rigorous debate, we selected Keith Ragone Studio (KRS) as our exhibition designer. KRS has 35 years of experience working with Philadelphia cultural institutions as well as recent experience re-presenting historical narratives of America’s colonial past. They also bring a complete project team to this task. In addition to President and Creative Director Keith Ragone, the KRS project team includes an experienced graphic designer (Karen Schmidt), installer and fabricator (Preston Link), and print production services (Berry & Homer).

Below are several examples from their impressive and wide-ranging portfolio.

“Carved in Stone: American Monuments, Myths & Memory” (2018)

The Heritage Center of the Union League of Philadelphia

A 1,100 sq. ft. exhibit in the historic League House in Philadelphia. The exhibition examines American monuments from those celebrating founding fathers to the confederate monuments of the  “Lost Cause,” asking visitors what they think about the removal of those icons

“Paint, Pattern & People: Furniture of Southeastern Pennsylvania, 1725-1850” (2012)

Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library

A 6,000 sq. ft. exhibition exploring the diverse furniture of southeastern Pennsylvania and the people who made, owned, inherited, and collected it. The exhibition explored the cultures and creativity of the area’s inhabitants, primarily those of British and Germanic heritage, this show featured nearly 200 objects.

“Marvels & Ciphers: A Look Inside the Flask” (2010)

The Science History Institute

A 1,200 square foot temporary exhibition of archival materials and paintings for the Institute’s important 17th and 18th century alchemical collections. The studio worked with museum curators to design an exhibition focusing on alchemy and quantum chemistry, to show how new discoveries have awed and frightened both the scientific community and the public at large over the centuries.

The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage logo.

Redrawing History: Indigenous Perspectives on Colonial America has been supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.