Rising Sun: Artists in an Uncertain America has been extended by popular demand!  Learn More

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Press Release

September 12, 2023

Samantha Byles, 857-869-0822

Katherine Blodgett, 215-431-1230


Collaborative Exhibition “Rising Sun: Artists in an Uncertain America” Extended Beyond October 2023

The celebrated exhibition, hosted by the African American Museum in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, features the work of 20 artists inspired by a reoccurring question in American history.

To commemorate the exhibition, the African American Museum in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts have published an exhibition catalogue that will be released September 2023.


PHILADELPHIA – The African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP) and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) have announced that the joint exhibition, Rising Sun: Artists in An Uncertain America, will be extended at both institutions beyond its original October closing date.

The one-of-a-kind exhibition, which invites guests to join 20 artists in exploring the themes, issues, and realities of the question is the sun rising or setting on the experiment of American democracy will now be on display until December 31, 2023, at PAFA and March 3, 2024, at AAMP. The extension allows for continued thinking about Rising Sun and its themes into the New Year and through Black History Month at AAMP, and the introduction of a new exhibition inspired by the works in Rising Sun, Artists as Cultivators, at PAFA.

In celebration of Rising Sun, AAMP and PAFA will release an exhibition catalogue that will be available for purchase during an open reception and panel discussion on Thursday, September 21, 2023, at AAMP. Co-curators Dejay Duckett and Judith Tannenbaum will discuss the catalogue, its featured essays, and the exhibition in a conversation moderated by TK Smith, Assistant Curator: Art of the African Diaspora at the Barnes Foundation. Attendees are invited to view the exhibition at AAMP from 5:30 to 6:30 pm. The curator conversation will begin at 6:30.

Curated collaboratively by AAMP and PAFA, Rising Sun is inspired by two independent references of the metaphorical rising sun of America. One from Benjamin Franklin during the 1787 Constitutional Convention where he famously contemplated whether the sun carved in George Washington’s chair was rising or setting and is reported to have said at the end of the Convention, “…But now at length I have the happiness to know that it is a rising and not a setting sun.” More than 100 years later, the symbol of the rising sun appeared again and lives on in James Weldon Johnson’s poem and hymn “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” also known as the “The Black National Anthem,” in the line “…Facing the rising sun of our new day begun, let us march on ‘till victory is won.”

An immersive art experience, Rising Sun is a multi-venue exhibition featuring newly commissioned, mixed-media art, including audio recordings, visual projections, full gallery installations, sculptures, and large-scale paintings, drawings, and prints, from the following artists: John Akomfrah CBE, La Vaughn Belle, Mark Thomas Gibson, Martha Jackson Jarvis, Demetrius Oliver, Dread Scott, Renée Stout, Hank Willis Thomas, and Deborah Willis at AAMP; and Shiva Ahmadi, Tiffany Chung, Lenka Clayton, Petah Coyne, Eamon Ore-Giron, Dyani White Hawk, Alison Saar, Rose B. Simpson, Sheida Soleimani, Wilmer Wilson IV, and Saya Woolfalk at PAFA. (Installations by Coyne, White Hawk, Ore-Giron, Saar, and Woolfalk at PAFA will also be displayed in the new exhibition, Artists as Cultivators)

The two institutions will also hold a Citizenship Art Bazaar on Saturday, September 30, 2023, at PAFA (Lenfest Plaza), which will feature Philadelphia visual and performing artists and civic and social justice organizations in an open-air market where guests can discover and take part in the infinite ways art informs and inspires citizenship. Admission to the Bazaar is free.
Additional programming for Rising Sun includes an in-person gallery talk with artist Lenka Clayton on Friday, September 15 from 12 to 1 pm at PAFA, and a curator/artist conversation between artist Alison Saar and Dejay Duckett on Friday, October 6, at 6 pm at AAMP.

With just a 15-minute walk separating the two museums, AAMP and PAFA have partnered with Philadelphia’s Independence Visitor Center to offer joint, reduced admission tickets to Rising Sun, which are available to purchase online through the Philadelphia Visitor Center.

For more information on Rising Sun: Artists in An Uncertain America, including artist bios, upcoming events, tickets, and an interactive exhibit map, visit risingsunphilly.org.

Major support for Rising Sun: Artists in an Uncertain America is provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. Leadership support is provided by the William Penn Foundation. Generous support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, Julie Jensen Bryan and Robert Bryan, Emily and Mike Cavanagh, Ro and Martin King, Vesna Todorović Sacks and Howard J. Sacks, and Dorothy and Ken Woodcock. Additional support is provided by Marianne N. Dean, the Lau Longsworth Charitable Fund, Dr. J. Brien and Maggie Murphy, Sandy Norcross, an anonymous donor, and donors to the PAFA Special Exhibitions Fund.

About the African American Museum in Philadelphia

Founded in 1976 in celebration of the nation’s Bicentennial, the African American Museum in Philadelphia is the first institution funded and built by a major municipality to preserve, interpret and exhibit the heritage of African Americans. The museum is committed to telling the story of African Americans in all its permutations: family life, the Civil Rights movement, arts and entertainment, sports, medicine, architecture, politics, religion, law and technology. Learn more at aampmuseum.org.

About the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts

Founded in 1805, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is America’s first school and museum of fine arts. A recipient of the National Medal of Arts, PAFA offers fine art degrees and exhibitions of historic and contemporary American art. The PAFA Museum aims to tell the sweeping story of American art, expanding who has been included in the canon of art history through its collections, exhibitions, and programs. The Museum amplifies a wide range of voices with the public, and the College and extended classes of the School of Fine Arts educate artists with a deep understanding of traditions and the ability to challenge conventions. Learn more at pafa.org.