History in Motion: Tom Judd’s Subway Mural opens at Woodmere

by William Valerio
Posted 2/24/21

I have always enjoyed Tom Judd’s voice in the creative mix of our city’s artists, and Woodmere is honored to celebrate a new exhibition, History in Motion: Tom Judd’s Subway Mural, on view through June 13, 2021.

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History in Motion: Tom Judd’s Subway Mural opens at Woodmere

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I have always enjoyed Tom Judd’s voice in the creative mix of our city’s artists, and Woodmere is honored to celebrate a new exhibition, History in Motion: Tom Judd’s Subway Mural, on view through June 13, 2021. Judd is a neighbor who lives with his family in Germantown, and I encourage you to reserve your advance tickets to meet him in our reduced-capacity galleries on opening weekend, Saturday, February 27 and 28 (masks and all social distance guidelines will be observed). You are also invited to join Judd and me for a virtual opening celebration on Tuesday, March 2. At 7pm, we will livestream our conversation from the exhibition gallery. To attend the event, simply visit the History in Motion exhibition webpage, woodmereartmuseum.org/history-in-motion.

The exhibition includes preparatory studies and in-process photographs associated with Judd’s Portal of Discovery mural, newly installed in SEPTA’s Fifth Street–Independence Hall station on the Market-Frankford line. The work is an important new addition to the rich landscape of public art in Philadelphia.

Having selected Judd’s proposal through a competitive process, SEPTA and the Philadelphia Art Commission gave the artist an opportunity to grapple with big ideas and historical themes on the station’s walls. The Portal to Discovery is peopled with significant individuals plucked from American history, in formats including familiar paintings in gilded frames from our city’s museums, heroic busts, full-length sculptures, newspaper illustrations, and early American silhouette portraits. The Founding Fathers, who convened in 1776 to write our Declaration of Independence at nearby Independence Hall, are present. Many of them were slaveholders, and they appear alongside the Abolitionists who fought to overturn slavery. Judd’s mural also features portraits of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Philadelphians such as Frances E. W. Harper, one of the first African American women to be published in the United States, and Absalom Jones, an African American abolitionist and clergyman who founded the Free African Society with Richard Allen in 1787. Juxtaposed with these figures are familiar landscape views of Philadelphia, windows, doors, and other architectural elements of the city that offer the sensation of portals to new ideas. The experience is one of a great historical dreamscape that poses questions and promotes civic enlightenment. We hope to see you in our galleries and online!

William Valerio is the director of Woodmere Art Museum.

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