Barbara Earl Thomas: The Illuminated Body - Exhibition

February 17 – May 21, 2024  Barbara Earl Thomas’ most recent series of portraits weave an exquisite tapestry of light and color to depict individuals illuminated in moments of creativity. Invoking the history of portraiture, Thomas’ nine large-scale cut paper pieces celebrate great Black cultural icons such as August Wilson, Seth Parker Woods, and Charles Johnson, alongside Thomas’ friends, family, and acquaintances. Set in contexts ranging from public performance to the quiet of daydreaming, they honor the creative spark in all its manifestations. Thomas describes her subjects with nuance and care, encouraging extended viewing of these vibrant and layered portraits. The portraits are presented with The Transformation Room, a luminous installation created from light and intricately cut Tyvek, which offers a moment of respite for reflection and inspiration.

Lecture Series: Jews and the University: Antisemitism, Admissions, Academic Freedom

January 23 - March 14, 2024  The integration of Jews into the university is one of the great success stories of modern American culture and Jewish life. But recent events at Penn and at other campuses have led to accusations that the university has been too tolerant of antisemitism and become less welcoming to Jews. This free lecture series is an effort to share insights from history, sociology, education studies, and other fields that can help put the present moment into context.

The series kicks off with Dara Horn's in-person appearance at Penn Hillel on January 23, and continues with online talks through February and March.

Exhibition - David C. Driskell and Friends: Creativity, Collaboration, and Friendship

Arthur Ross Gallery, 220 South 34th Street Philadelphia | to

David C. Driskell and Friends: Creativity, Collaboration, and Friendship highlights the artistic legacy of David C. Driskell and the importance of his relationships with fellow artists, many of whom hold a significant place in the art canon. In 1976, Driskell curated the groundbreaking traveling exhibition Two Centuries of Black American Art: 1750–1950, which has been a foundation for the field of African American art history. Many of the artists that were featured are included in this exhibition.

The exhibition explores the work of, and Driskell’s relationships with, such figures as Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett, Jacob Lawrence, Keith Morrison, James Porter, Kara Walker, Hale Woodruff, and more. Original works of art created by Driskell are also featured, as well as ephemera from the Driskell Papers that exemplify the artists’ wide range of friendships.

David C. Driskell (1931-2020) was a leading American artist, scholar and curator who organized more than 35 exhibitions of work by fellow Black artists and was central to establishing African-American art as a field of study. He worked primarily in collage, mixed media, and printmaking. He retired from the University of Maryland at College Park in 1998 as Distinguished University Professor of Art and also taught for more than a decade at Fisk University, where he curated numerous shows highlighting Black artists. He received a National Humanities Medal in 2000. In 2001, the University of Maryland established the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of Visual Arts and the Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora, which now holds a majority of Driskell’s original artworks and papers.

Civil Rights Photography at the Penn Libraries

Alcove Gallery - Van Pelt Library | to

A new collaboration between the Penn Art Collection and the Penn Libraries has mounted its first exhibition in what is being called the “alcove” gallery on the fifth floor of the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center. “Time of Change: Civil Rights Photography of Bruce Davidson.”

Symposium: Genetic Ancestry and Perceptions of Race: Impacts in Social and Medical Contexts

403 McNeil and online | to

Keynote Speaker: Professor Dorothy Roberts.
The symposium brings medical researchers, clinicians, health scholars, and social scientists into conversation about the way that genetic ancestry information may influence observers’ perceptions of others’ race, and the implications that may have in both social and medical contexts. Participants will engage with presentations and discussions that will inform future research agendas on how genetic ancestry, appearance, self-identification, administrative health records and other sources of information may differentially shape patients’ experiences and health outcomes.

Feminist Art / Feminist Activism

Online | to

“Feminist Art/Feminist Activism” will feature a conversation between Brazilian artist Juliana Sícoli and Professor Jennifer Ponce de León (Penn) on art, gender, and resistance.

You can learn more about Juliana Sícoli’s work on her website ( and that of the Ricardo Fernandes Gallery (

Sponsored by: The Program in Gender, Sexuality, & Women’s Studies and The Center for Research in Feminist, Queer, & Transgender Studies.

Power from Margins and the Promise of Democracy

Michael A. Fitts Auditorium, Penn Carey Law | to

Provost's Lecture on Diversity - "Power from Margins and the Promise of Democracy”

Provost’s Distinguished Visiting Faculty Fellow, Jamila Michener, will deliver the lecture. Provost John L. Jackson, Jr. will introduce Dr. Michener, who is Associate Professor of Government and Public Policy and Inaugural Director of the Center for Racial Justice and Equitable Futures at Cornell University.

Pundits, scholars and ordinary people alike lament the troubling decline of democracy in the contemporary United States. Trust in democratic institutions is at a nadir while political cynicism and support for authoritarianism are on the rise. In this broader context of political malaise, where are the avenues for building a more robust democratic polity? Drawing on insights from qualitative research, Dr. Michener will highlight how building power within racially and economically marginalized communities around issues directly related to their material interests (like health and housing) is a promising pathway. Grassroots political organizing is (perhaps unexpectedly) an antidote to the social cleavages that accelerate democratic backsliding. What’s more is that such organizing can forge a route to transforming both the polity and the political economy it is embedded within such that both are more attuned to communities that teeter at the margins of the existing power structures.

The event is open to Penn faculty, students, and staff (Penn ID is required for entry into Penn Carey Law).  Questions regarding the event may be directed to

Performance | Seth Parker Woods: Difficult Grace

Penn Live Arts Zellerbach Theater | to

Difficult Grace is a multimedia concert tour de force exploring identity, history, and personal growth featuring Grammy-nominated cellist Seth Parker Woods and dancer Roderick George. The performance draws inspiration from the Great Migration, immigration, and the poetry of Kemi Alabi and Dudley Randall. Seth Parker Woods takes on multiple roles in the performance, which seamlessly blends artistic genres across music, film, spoken text, dance, and visual arts (featuring artwork by Jacob Lawrence, Barbara Earl Thomas, Zoë McLean, and Freida Abtan). The performance features music written for and with Seth by Freida Abtan, Monty Adkins, Fredrick Gifford, Nathalie Joachim, Ted Hearne, and Pierre Alexandre Tremblay.
Tickets $18 general admission / $15 Penn faculty & staff / $5 Penn students. Tickets will go on sale February 1, 2024. Purchase through Penn Live Arts ticket portal.

The Conflict Over the Conflict: The Israel/Palestine Campus Debate While Finding Common Ground

Van Pelt-Dietrich Library, Orrery Pavilion | to

Even before the Hamas attack on October 7, and Israel’s response, some campuses were seeing efforts from partisans on each side to vilify, and silence, partisans on the other. How do we understand the current moment?

This event will be held in person at Van Pelt-Dietrich Library, Orrery Pavilion, 6th Fl, 3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia.

Penn Student Post-Dialogue Sessions

Join other Penn students for a light meal (Halal and Kosher) and a chance to share perspectives on the campus dialogue on the Israel/Palestine conflict in light of Ken Stern’s talk. The conversation will be facilitated by Penn students affiliated with the SNF Paideia Program. The dialogue will begin immediately after the talk in the 6thfloor classrooms of Van Pelt Library.

‘Black Girl’s Window: Re-framing Contemporary Reparative Artistic Practices’ | Gwendolyn Dubois Shaw

Kleinman Center, Fisher Fine Arts Library, Room 414 | to

oin us for a lecture with Gwendolyn Dubois Shaw.

This illustrated lecture by Gwendolyn Dubois Shaw considers work by African American artists that mobilize windows as a vessel through which to imagine new modes of seeing and coming into visibility. It will examine paintings, assemblage sculptures, and stained glass that transform domestic, educational, and spiritual architecture into spaces of contemplation and community.  

13th Annual Powwow at Penn

Houston Hall, Hall of Flags | to

You are invited to join us for the 13th Annual Powwow at Penn hosted by Natives at Penn & the Greenfield Intercultural Center (GIC)! This year is especially significant because we will be celebrating 30 Years of Empowering Native and Indigenous Voices on Penn's campus and GIC's 40th Anniversary!

Lecture - Can Technology Spark Joy and Imagination? Intersecting Frameworks to Promote Health and Liberation

Holman Biotech Commons, 3610 Hamilton Walk | to

2024 Albert M. Greenfield Memorial Lecture.

Moderated by: JOSÉ A. BAUERMEISTER, PHD, MPH, Albert M. Greenfield Professor of Human Relations, Director, The Eidos LGBTQ+ Health Initiative at Penn, Chair, Department of Family & Community Health.

Panelists: DR. DESMOND PATTON, PIK University Professor, Chief Strategy Officer, School of Social Policy & Practice, SAFELab Director, Penn; DR. COURTNEY COGBURN, Associate Professor of Social Work, Special Advisor to the Dean, Columbia University, School of Social Work.