Assemblage: An Exhibition on Collective Creativity Opens in Drexel’s Pearlstein Gallery

Performance by Meena Murugesan and d. Sabela Grimes.

A performance by Meena Murugesan and d. Sabela Grimes. Photo credit, Alon Koppel. 


Contemporary culture most often places value on authoritative individual (master) voices—when often those voices rely upon the work of others to exist. In an attempt to de-center the focus on solo auteurs as preferred makersAssemblage, an exhibition at the Leonard Pearlstein Gallery of Drexel University’s Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, looks to highlight works by collectives or collaborative projects made by several artists.

Assemblage begs the question, how do artists, specifically ones working in multiple genres, work together to produce singular works? How do we investigate and illuminate what is often a collaborative effort and intentionally says as much? 

A performance by Shasta Geaux Pop!

Curator Maori Karmael Holmes, artist and director of BlackStar Film Festival sees Assemblage as an attempt to disrupt notions of principality and authorship for a collective creation. 

The exhibition will run from Wednesday, April 10 through Friday, May 24, Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. A closing party will take place on Friday, May 24 from 6-8 p.m. which will feature a performance by Shasta Geaux Pop! (link to her site). A film screening of Marie Alarcón’s Witness will occur on Sunday, April 28 from 3-4:30 p.m. in the URBN Annex Screening Room.

All of the artists featured in the show move in and out of disciplines, cities and venues—defying categorization or genre, much like the show’s curator. There is an interest in de-colonizing authorship but also genre and discipline and the focus on outmoded— or at least contested — field structures including mentorship, mastery and genius.

The exhibition will feature works that include performance arts, video, costume, sculpture, photography, and documentary film. Participating collectives will include: BARETEETH with Marie Alarcón and Ash Richards, Complex Movements, Shasta Geaux Pop!, MVMT , TNEG and SiriusShapeShifters.

Meena Murugesan and d. Sabela Grimes' "Dark Matter Messages"

Collaboration in this manner allows for diverse points of view, cosmologies and tension, which viewed in a non-binary manner, enables growth and breakthrough. Relinquishing — or attempting to — the single authoritative voice for an aesthetic shaped by many, thus dismantles the preciousness of the object and its production—decolonizing the role of the auteur.

Holmes founded the BlackStar Film Festival in 2012. For over 20 years, she has organized programs in film and performance for organizations such as the Anthology Film Archives, the Institute of Contemporary Art Philadelphia, the Barnes Foundation, the Asian Arts Initiative, Painted Bride Art Center, Scribe Video Center, International House and Swarthmore College. Other projects include KinoWatt (2011-2012), co-curated with Sara Zia Ebrahimi and Black Lily Film & Music Festival for Women (2006-2010). She has been selected as a curator for the 2019 Whitney Biennial film program. 

As a filmmaker, her film and video works have screened internationally and been broadcast nationwide, including most notably, her feature documentary Scene Not Heard: Women in Philadelphia Hip-Hop. As a graphic designer Holmes has worked on several book projects including (1)ne Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race (Yaba Blay, BlackPrint Press, 2011) and Dismantle: An Anthology of Writing from the VONA Workshop (eds. Marissa Johnson-Valenzuela, Andrea Walls, Adriana E. Ramírez, Camille Acker and Marco Fernando Navarro, Thread Makes Blanket Press, 2014). She has designed costumes for several short films and plays including working with director James Avery on a production of King Hedley II. Maori has received awards from John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Leeway Foundation, Independence Media, Women’s Way and Philadelphia Commission on Human Rights. In 2009, she was named a Creative Ambassador by Visit Philadelphia and was a fellow at the 60th Flaherty Film Seminar and a 2016 Ford Foundation Rockwood JustFilms Fellow. 

Marie Alarcón's film "Witness"

Holmes received her MFA in Film & Media Arts from Temple University, her BA in History from American University, and did postgraduate studies in Costume Design at California Institute of the Arts. She has been an adjunct lecturer at Drexel University, University of the Arts, Temple University, and Villanova University. Her writing has appeared in Film Quarterly, Philadelphia City Paper, Philadelphia Weekly, Washington City Paper,, Blu Magazine and

 To learn more about the exhibition visit here