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Vetoed Dreams: Public Art in the Age of Insurrection

April 6, 2023 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

Free – $10

As we consider the current challenges of democracy in America, public artists in Philadelphia continue to make visible the experience of and response to systemic racism and white supremacy.

Join multidisciplinary artist Theodore A. Harris, the anonymous art collective Mz. Icar, and poet Lamont B. Steptoe in a conversation moderated by Dr. Mey-Yen Moriuchi to examine how the public art landscape has changed over time. Each artist on this multigenerational panel brings a unique perspective to their work as public artists. They will share their experience and vision for public art and mural making, in careful consideration of the impacts of voter suppression and mass incarceration.

This event is co-sponsored by Mural Arts Philadelphia.

Mural Arts Philadelphia and The Guild are collaborating with Theodore A. Harris to create a portable mural, Vetoed Dreams, based on his 1995 collage in the PAFA Museum collection. The collage is on view in Rising Sun: Artists in an Uncertain America, in the exhibition’s Connecting Past and Present gallery.

Registrants for this event are invited to come early and visit PAFA’s installation of the exhibition in the Historic Landmark Building, before the panel from 6:00 – 6:50 pm.

Image: Theodore A. Harris (b. 1966), Vetoed Dreams, 1995, Mixed media collage on paper, 4 x 6 in., PAFA Museum purchase, 2016.5.1.


Thursday, April 6, 2023


7:00 pm – 8:30 pm (Doors open at 6 pm)


Exhibition 6:00 pm – 6:50 pm: Historic Landmark Building at 118 N. Broad Street, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

Panel 7:00 – 8:30 pm: Rhoden Arts Center, Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building at 128 N. Broad Street, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts


$10 General Admission / $5 PAFA & AAMP Members (with advanced registration) / Free Community Access

Free for PAFA Students, Faculty, and Staff

Register Now

Theodore A. Harris was born in 1966 in Manhattan and raised in Philadelphia, where his art practice is based. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and is in private and public collections such as University of New Mexico Art Museum, Saint Louis University Museum of Art, La Salle University Art Museum, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, McGill University Visual Arts Collection, Center for Africana Studies; University of Pennsylvania, Kislak Center Rare Books and Manuscript Library; University of Pennsylvania, and the Petrucci Family Foundation Collection of African American Art, and the Winston and Carolyn Lowe Collection. Harris is Director and Founder of The Institute for Advanced Study in Black Aesthetics, and in 2007 joined the Visual Artists Network. In 1985 he co-founded the Anti-Graffiti Network/Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, where he continues to teach. Harris is a collagist, poet, and author of Thesentür: Conscientious Objector to Formalism. Harris is the co-author of Our Flesh of Flames (Anvil Arts Press) and Malcolm X as Ideology (LeBow Books) with Amari Baraka; i ran from it and was still in it (Cusp Books) with Fred Moten; TRIPTYCH, with Amiri Baraka and Jack Hirschman (Caza de Poesía). He is a 2022 CFEVA Visual Artist Fellow (Center for Emerging Visual Artists).

Mz. Icar is an anonymous art collective, comprised primarily of Black Women. Our name is racIzM, backward. We were established in 2018. Our members comprise of an Illustrator, Photographer, Designer, Prop stylist, Street Artist, and Collage Artist. We started this collective to create works that celebrate Women, Global Blackness, and Play. We create narratives in the form of mixed-media street art and fine art that explore histories and imagine the best case scenario future from the perspective of women and people of color. Our work has been exhibited at Pyramid Hill Museum in OH, Culture House DC, Welancora Gallery, The Leroy Neiman Gallery, Westwood Gallery, i-20 Gallery, WNYC Radio’s Green Space, Rush Gallery, Andeken Gallery, SXSW and the Manifest Hope Art for Obama Democratic Convention Gallery Exhibition. We have done site-specific installation work at Etsy’s HQ, Publicis, and branded art projects for Ms. Lauryn Hill’s world tour, Essence Magazine and Nickelodeon.

Dr. Mey-Yen Moriuchi is Associate Professor of art history at La Salle University. She received her B.A. in History of Art and International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania, and her M.A. and Ph.D. in History of Art from Bryn Mawr College. She is a recipient of the Whiting Fellowship in the Humanities and has presented her research at various conferences, including the College Art Association, Feminist Art History Conference, Southeastern College Art Conference, International Society for the Study of Surrealism, the National Gallery of Art, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, among others. Her research focuses on cross-cultural encounters and representations of intersectional racial, social, and national identities in 19th-21st-century art. She is the author of Mexican Costumbrismo: Race, Society and Identity in Nineteenth-Century Art, (Pennsylvania State University Press) 2018.  Her current research examines Asian-African-Latin American connections in the artworks of artists such as Wifredo Lam and Tilsa Tsuchiya. She is the co-editor of Art and Activism in the Twenty-First Century (Routledge, 2022) which examines the role and breadth of contemporary activist art.

Lamont B. Steptoe was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and is a graduate of Temple University’s School of Radio, Television, and Film. Steptoe is a Vietnam Veteran, a poet, publisher, and founder of Whirlwind Press. He has written 16 collections of poetry and published three collections by South African poet, Dennis Brutus. In 2005, Steptoe was awarded an American Book Award for his collection, A Long Movie of Shadows by the Before Columbus Foundation. In 2006, Steptoe was inducted into the International Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent by the Gwendolyn Brooks Center in Chicago. Steptoe’s work appears in over 100 anthologies and has read his work throughout the United States and in Nicaragua, Holland, and France. Steptoe’s forthcoming book WOKE! will be published by Whirlwind Press.


Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
118-128 N Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102 United States
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