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David Hartt: The Histories (Le Mancenillier) is the first artist commission to activate Beth Sholom’s Frank Lloyd Wright-designed National Historic Landmark in Elkins Park, PA. Comprising contrasting media — from orchids and tapestries to hi-resolution video screens and quadraphonic sound—the exhibition considers histories of Jewish and Black diasporas in the United States.

The exhibition centers around 19th-century composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk. Born in New Orleans in 1829 to a Jewish father and a Creole mother, Gottschalk studied performance in Paris and was a contemporary of Frédéric Chopin. His internationally recognized compositions were the first to incorporate African-American and Afro-Caribbean vernacular song within a classical idiom—a hybrid approach that anticipated ragtime and jazz by more than 50 years.

Hartt has invited Ethiopian pianist Girma Yifrashewa to record the work of Gottschalk as the score for the installation, and a series of live activations featuring Caribbean, African American, and Jewish music from the 19th and early 20th centuries will activate the building on select Sundays.

Click here for the exhibition brochure.

About the artist

Born in Montréal in 1967, David Hartt lives and works in Philadelphia where he is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Fine Arts at the University of Pennsylvania. He has an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a BFA from the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Ottawa.

Hartt’s recent solo exhibitions include in the forest at the Graham Foundation in Chicago and Negative Space at Galerie Thomas Schulte in Berlin. His work has been included in several recent group exhibitions including Ocean of Images: New Photography 2015 at The Museum of Modern Art, America Is Hard to See at the Whitney Museum of American Art and Shine a light/Surgir de l’ombre: Canadian Biennial at the National Gallery of Canada.

His work is in the public collections of The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, The Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, The Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, The National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, and The Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.

In 2018 Hartt was a recipient of both a Pew Fellowship and a Graham Foundation Fellowship. He was awarded a Foundation for Contemporary Art Grant in 2015, in 2012 he was named a United States Artists Cruz Fellow and in 2011 he received a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award.