Penn's Institute of Contemporary Art Wins National Award
December 3, 2009
Since it first presented the works of Andy Warhol more than 45 years ago, Penn's Institute of Contemporary Art has earned distinguished praise for its innovative curatorial vision. Now ICA has won the First Place award for Best Show in a University Gallery by AICA/USA for its groundbreaking exhibition, "Dirt on Delight: Impulses that Inform Clay" (January 15 to July 12, 2009).
Organized by ICA, curated by Ingrid Schaffner and Jenelle Porter, and presenting the work of 22 clay artists -- ranging from the late 19th century to the present day -- the exhibition was a rare chance to see ceramics like never before, along with ICA's radical point of view: ceramics as art and
craft. In a glowing review, The New York Times
wrote, "It can't be said enough that the art-craft divide is a bogus concept... but this timely, satisfying show proves it."
read review >
On a campus filled with cultural opportunities, ICA stands out as a resource for unusual, thought-provoking exhibitions that encourage visitors to experience and think about the forms, spaces, images, and ideas that immediately inform contemporary life. But it doesn't end there; ICA is also committed to reaching increasingly wider audiences, and "Dirt on Delight" was exemplary proof of that.
ICA documented the exhibition in a fully-illustrated scholarly catalogue with essays, hosted a range of public programs that expanded on the themes of the exhibition, and offered access to living artists. Then, after its run here in Philadelphia, "Dirt on Delight" traveled to Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where it turned more heads -- and ideas on their heads -- thanks to an important endowed fund established by ICA Overseer Jeffrey R. Chodorow, W'72, L'75, and his wife, Linda, which gave it the means to travel.
Since 2007, the Chodorow Exhibition Initiative has enabled several ICA-organized exhibitions to travel to other art museums. Last year's "Puppet Show" went to four venues; the year before, the first American survey of works by Karen Kilimnik traveled to three additional venues.
Like "Dirt on Delight," other ICA exhibitions have toured the country and won accolades by AICA/USA, the only organization which formally recognizes excellence in museum and gallery exhibitions. In 2002, "Charles LeDray, Sculpture, 1989-2002" traveled to the Arts Club of Chicago, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and the Seattle Art Museum, and took the Second Place award for "Best Show in a Kunsthalle or Alternative Space." The following year, the first large museum survey of visual artist Polly Apfelbaum traveled to Cincinnati's Contemporary Arts Center and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, winning Second Place for "Best Monographic Museum Show Organized Nationally."
At Penn, the goal is not simply to excel -- it is to challenge assumptions and discover fresh and better ways of thinking about and doing things. These are the revolutionary ideas propelled by our Making History campaign, along with the passionate people -- like the Chodorows -- whose support is making a real difference in the world.
It's another reason why we say that at Penn -- and beyond -- we are making history.
ICA will accept this honor for “Dirt on Delight” at the AICA/USA Awards ceremony in February 2010 at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.
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