The exhibition artwork explores themes of ecology, community, liberation, and self-determination and interrogates society’s relationships with history, culture, and economy. Through different lenses, the exhibition examines powerful acts of historical reckoning and cultural healing, reinforcing the Museum’s vision of a world united in the work of preserving liberty and freedom for all.
“Here at the National Liberty Museum, we define liberty as action, and this exhibition is a way to open visitors’ eyes to what a world built in liberty for all can look like,” said Dr. Elizabeth Grant, Chief Program Officer of the National Liberty Museum. “We hope that through these works of art that explore potential futures and solutions to past and present concerns, ourMuseum guests can see how art has the power to drive conversation and positive change.”
Imagined Futures invited artists to reflect on the futures that could be, and the selected work showcases how translating varying pasts into visions of the future can empower generations to act in the present. The exhibition breaks away from real-world conventions and restraints, instead holding a mirror to contemporary societal issues and reflecting them into imagined realities. Ultimately, the exhibition calls on viewers to exercise civic action and champion a hopeful vision for a common future to bring imagined change into reality.
The artists for the Imagined Futures exhibition were selected by a panel of jurists, including Logan Cryer, Co-Curator of Icebox Project Space; Zindzi Harley, Assistant Curator at the African American Museum inPhiladelphia; Raul Romero, Director for Special Projects at the University of the Arts; Teri Scott, Director of Marketing for the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania.
Meet the Artists:
Agaba Solomon Peabo
Annie Blazejack and Geddes Levenson
As a Vietnamese immigrant artist and educator based in Philadelphia, they draw from concepts of memory, translation, material transformation, Vietnamese historical archives, and the global supply chain to convey thecomplexity of postcolonial societies. Nguyen received their BA in Fine Arts and History of Art from Bryn Mawr College and their MFA in Painting from Tyler School of Art and Architecture. They were an artist-in-residence at Wassaic Project, Dear Artists, 77Art Center, and Chautauqua Art Institution. They have been in various group and solo exhibitions including the Delaware Contemporary, the Woodmere Art Museum, Temple Contemporary, Visionary Projects, HOT•BED Philly, AUTOMAT Collective, the Monmouth Museum, Studio Montclair, Philadelphia Sketch Club, Vincom Center for Contemporary Art (Vietnam), and Gallery Steinsland Berliner (Stockholm).
Heather Ujiie is an Interdisciplinary Associate Professor at Moore College of Art & Design in Philadelphia, and her textile installations and artwork have been exhibited nationally and internationally. After growing up in NYC’s Greenwich Village as part of a family of artist educators, she believes her creativity comes from a lively bohemian childhood, and experience as both artist and designer. Her work synthesizes several methods of artistry, including painting, drawing, stitching, fiber manipulation, and digital printing technology on fabric. She hopes her digitally printed textile installations ignite deep spiritual forays into the imagination and generate reflection on what is hidden, whether it be our own personal demons or lust for life.
Juan Jose Cielo
Juan Jose Cielo is a Colombian-American artist based in New York City who works in painting, photography, and short films. Through his work, he creates space where Latino myth/folklore are part ofthe visions of a futuristic world. Cielo graduated from The Cooper Union in New York, with studies at the École Nationale Supérieure Beaux-Arts in Paris. In 2017, Cielo was selected as an artist-in-residence with scientists and researchers at the Mars Desert Research Station in Hanksville, Utah. His work has been featured in galleries and exhibitions including The Coral Springs Museum of Art, the Consulate of Colombia in New York City, and The Alliance Française in Bogota. Cielo is a 2023 artist-in-residence at The Fountainhead Residency in Miami, Florida. Cielo is the recipient of YoungArts’s $25,000 Jorge M. Pérez Award 2022.
Komikka Patton is a peripatetic 2D multimedia artist. Patton uses ink, paper, and various printmaking techniques to create works centrally based on the African Diasporan human condition; her large paper installations and collages touch futurism, transhumanism, mythology, and storytelling. Her work investigates stories; that disassemble and reassemble time, matter, space, and perspective, coupling fragments of thoughts, memories, and associations; with folklore, mysticism, and the metaphysical. Patton has been featured the in the World Trade Center and Hyperallergic. She is the winner of a Darryl Chappell Foundation Grant, NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship Finalist, and the May and Samuel Rudin Foundation Scholarship. She obtained her BFA in Fine Arts from Columbus College of Art & Design and an MFA from New York University.
As a Nigerian digital artist, he defines the medium with his innovative take on Afrofuturism to create new narratives with technology-based work. Informed by symbolism and reimagining the significance of African diaspora culture of ancient, pre-colonial sculptures, including the Benin Bronzes, Owo employs his formal training in Advertising, Building Technology, and multi-disciplinary art to inform his 3D and motion design-led practice. Inspired by science fiction literature, Owo sees the core concept of Afrofuturism as people dreaming of a better life. Recognized as an established creative presence within the African NFT community and beyond it, Owo’s narrative-based conceptual work has defined his meteoric rise in the crypto art space.
An interdisciplinary artist that creates work exploring his identity as an Indian-born American through painting, digital design, and dance. He draws inspiration from traditional South Asian forms and aesthetics to create joyous chaos––appropriating aspects of Indian folk, traditional, classical art & dance in contrast to his existence as a Western-based and raised artist. sāgar is currently pursuing his MFA at the Maryland Institute College of Art.
A video artist, film director, and editor from Greece, she explores the themes of memory and death in the Anthropocene era. Using found footage for her interactive pieces, she aims to evoke the ecumenical experience of death among the living. Her exhibition includes research-based artworks and the use of archival footage of the past to highlight the point of view of the future towards the past. She has participated in international festivals and art fairs such as Documenta 14, Video Art Miden & Simultan, and completed her first feature-length documentary, “Death Under Control,” in 2021.
Solarpunk Surf Club
Solarpunk Surf Club is an artist collective that creates and curates egalitarian platforms for surfing the waves of still-possible worlds. We elaborate on the aesthetics of solarpunk in order to bring forth the latent horizontalism and communalism inherent in social ecological reharmonization. Our works politicize, historicize, and demystify a collective ecological, utopian future. Solarpunk Surf Club has presented projects internationally in galleries, museums, festivals, conferences, libraries, activist gatherings, and forest occupations. In 2022, the collective received the Future Art Award: ECOSYSTEM X from MOZAIK Philanthropy (Los Angeles) for their artist’s game, Solarpunk Futures.