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Multitudes with PAFA
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Multitudes with PAFA

Year: 2023

World Cafe Live and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) present Multitudes, a multisensory event series. Hear world premiere works from some of Philadelphia’s top performers commissioned by World Cafe Live, all inspired by PAFA’s exhibition Making American Artists.

Multitudes asks five musicians and three poets to share their individual reflections of the artwork, presenting new narratives in American art history by spotlighting stories about women artists, LGBTQIA+ artists, and artists of color. The result is a highly personal and powerful illumination of what it means to be an American and an American artist today.


Saturday, February 4 at PAFA

Featured Artists: Raina Leon, Salina Kuo, Kendrah Butler Waters, Kirwyn Sutherland, Devi Majeske, and ILL DOOTS*

Thursday, February 16 at World Cafe Live

Featured Artists: Raina Leon, Kingsley Ibeneche, Jaylene Clark Owens, Devi Majeske, ILL DOOTS*

Wednesday, March 8 at World Cafe Live

Featured Artists: Salina Kuo, Kendrah Butler Waters, Kirwyn Sutherland, ILL DOOTS*

Saturday, March 18 at PAFA

Featured Artists: Kingsley Ibeneche, Jaylene Clark Owens, and ILL DOOTS

*ILL DOOTS will not be appearing live at this event, their performance will be streamed. 

About the Artists

Raina J. León, PhD is Black, Afro-Boricua, and from Philadelphia (Lenni Lenape ancestral lands). She is a mother, daughter, sister, madrina, comadre, partner, poet, writer, and teacher educator. She believes in collective action and community work, the profound power of holding space for the telling of our stories, and the liberatory practice of humanizing education. She seeks out communities of care and craft and is a member of the Carolina African American Writers Collective, Cave Canem, CantoMundo, Macondo. She is the author of black god mother this body, Canticle of Idols, Boogeyman Dawn, sombra : (dis)locate, and the chapbooks, profeta without refuge and Areyto to Atabey: Essays on the Mother(ing) Self. She publishes across forms in visual art, poetry, nonfiction, fiction, and scholarly work. She has received fellowships and residencies with the Obsidian Foundation, Community of Writers, Montana Artists Refuge, Macdowell, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, Vermont Studio Center, the Tyrone Guthrie Center in Annamaghkerrig, Ireland and Ragdale, among others. She is a founding editor of The Acentos Review, an online quarterly, international journal devoted to the promotion and publication of Latinx arts. She educates our present and future agitators/educators as a full professor of education at Saint Mary’s College of California, only the third Black person (all Black women) and the first Afro-Latina to achieve that rank there. She is additionally a digital archivist, emerging visual artist, writing coach, and curriculum developer.

Kingsley Ibeneche is a Nigerian American performing artist based in Camden, New Jersey. He has choreographed, produced and starred in performances at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Barnes Foundation and The Kennedy Center. His music has been featured by NPR, The Fader and Afropunk and he has danced on SNL, MTV and HBO. Enticed by a vision of using multidisciplinary creative energies to highlight social change, Ibeneche’s work aims to connect African people and the African diaspora through movement and sound. His debut album Udo was released in September 2022.

Jaylene Clark Owens is an AUDELCO and Barrymore award-winning actress, as well as a highly acclaimed spoken word poet, from Harlem, NY. She is the author of AfroPoetic, her debut collection of poetry, now available on the Shop page. She received her BFA from Ithaca College, where she founded, and led, the spoken word organization, Spit That!. Jaylene is a part of The Wilma Theater’s resident acting company, HotHouse, in Philadelphia, PA. She has been seen in numerous productions in Philadelphia including WHITE (Theatre Horizon), Red Speedo (Theatre Exile), and her Barrymore award-winning performance in An Octoroon (The Wilma Theater). As a part of the Barrymore Awards, she is the 2019 winner of the illustrious F. Otto Haas Award for an Emerging Philadelphia Artist. She is the Executive Director of Harlem KW Project, LLC, a theatrical company she created with three other women to create the spoken word infused play, Renaissance in the Belly of a Killer Whale. In 2012 she won first place in the Apollo Theater Amateur Night contest for her poem, “SoHa.” She is an alum of the theatre-in-verse #BARS Workshop at the Public Theater, led by Rafael Casal and Daveed Diggs. In addition to performing spoken word, she is also a teaching artist. She has taught several poetry writing workshops with students ranging from second grade to adults. Jaylene co-hosts an Arts and Culture podcast called, “#PoppaPank,” with fellow actor, Justin Jain. You can watch live episodes of #PoppaPank on Facebook or YouTube, or listen to it on Apple Music, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Devi Majeske is a singer-songwriter and sitarist from South Philly. During her undergraduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania, Devi began cutting her teeth playing basement shows with her indie rock band “Air Devi” in the Philly underground music scene. After graduating, Devi spent several months in India with her grandparents to get in touch with her heritage and to study sitar more seriously. As a biracial woman interested in both transcending borders and exploring the relationships between language, music, and culture, Devi has written lyrics in French, English, Gujarati, and Hindi. She has also been studying Khayal, a style of South Asian raga-based improvisational singing, which you can hear her implement on Air Devi’s recent release Dharti.

ILL DOOTS has always and will forever be a body of change. Since their inception at University of the Arts in 2009, this musical collective of individuals has each brought their own lifetime of artistic influences and experiences into the fold to contribute to the group’s timeless and genre-defying music.  Hailing from all over the United States but unified under the undeniable grit and soul of Philadelphia, the band currently consists of four members: US – Emcee, Elle.Morris – Vocals, Scott Ziegler – Bass, & Jordan McCree – Drums.  From energy shifting live performances to commissioned theater works and educational workshops, 3 studio albums and countless mixtapes– to deny ILL DOOTS’ output, advocacy, and relevance to the culture would be a disservice to the community that helped make it possible. Every member strives to embody the acronym behind the whole brand: ILL= I Love Living & I Love Learning.

Salina Kuo is a songwriter and self-taught guzhengist, with a background in classical percussion. On guzheng, Kuo recently played in the Public Orchestra, and as half of River Full of Fruit, a Chinese-American folk duo that combines song, improvisation, and poetry. As part of this duo they have also participated in Ensemble Evolution, the summer program from the International Contemporary Ensemble. Kuo plays vibraphone and leads an alt-rnb project, St. John’s Wort, and is an active member of Philadelphia’s free improv scene.

Kendrah Butler-Waters is a Philadelphia based pianist, violinist, vocalist, composer and educator. Musician and scholar, she holds a dual bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Sociology from Temple University and Master’s degree in Elementary Education from Drexel University. As a performer, this brilliant pianist culminates the sounds of Jazz, Classical, and Gospel into a wonderfully woven sound that is all her own. Butler-Watershas performed at countless jazz venues and jazz festivals including the Kimmel Center as the Kimmel Center’s 2015-2016 Jazz resident, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and was a featured artist at the Cape May Jazz and Lancaster Avenue Jazz festivals. Kendrah’s work has also been featured on NPR, WRTI, PBS, WHYY and countless other media outlets. Kendrah has been awarded several grant and music commission opportunities to compose new work and her 2021 “Faith Walk” album release has receive wonderful reviews and receives regular air play on various jazz radio outlets, like WRTI 90.1 FM. Kendrah recently completed a composer commission with ConsenSIS, a black female and femme collective founded and led by former poet laureates, Yolanda Wisher and Trapeta Mayson. She has many projects and commissions she is currently working on.

Kirwyn Sutherland is a Clinical Research Professional and poet who makes poems centering the black experience in America. He is a Watering Hole fellow and has attended workshops/residencies at Cave Canem, Winter Tangerine, Poets House, Philadelphia Sculpture Gym, and Pearlstein Art Gallery at Drexel University. Kirwyn’s work has been published in American Poetry Review, Cosmonauts Ave., Blueshift Journal, APIARY Magazine, FOLDER, The Wanderer and elsewhere. Kirwyn has served as Editor of Lists/Book Reviewer for WusGood magazine and poetry editor for APIARY Magazine. Kirwyn has a chapbook, Jump Ship, on Thread Makes Blanket Press.

About the Organizers

Josh Campbell (WCL Artistic Director of Education & Engagement) is an award-winning teaching artist, arts administrator, and creative who has worked for arts and arts education organizations in New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. Over the course of his career, he has worked with various populations including students in grades K-12, English Language Learners, and the creative aging community in a variety of settings including libraries, shelters, virtual rooms, and juvenile justice facilities. As a facilitator he has developed workshops focusing on the intersection of creativity, leadership, equity, vulnerability, and black artmaking traditions. As an artist, he works in the choreopoem tradition, blending spoken word, movement, multimedia, and musicality of the late 90s to create spaces that reimagine the possibilities of freedom and liberation. Currently, he is a member of Jouska Playworks, a Philadelphia playwriting collective focused on amplified stories of the African American diaspora. A Baltimore native, he is a graduate of the University of the Arts and Baltimore School for the Arts where he studied classical music and the tuba.

Lori Waselchuk (Assistant Director of Public Programs at PAFA) was the exhibitions and programs coordinator at TILT, where she co-created and directed the Women’s Mobile Museum with Zanele Muholi. She is a documentary photographer whose works have appeared in national and international exhibitions and publications. Waselchuk also curates and coordinates projects that prioritize creative engagement and social change, including Grace Before Dying (Umbrage Editions 2010), a collaboration with incarcerated hospice caregivers at the Louisiana State Penitentiary. Waselchuk has received many honors for her work including an Aaron Siskind Foundation Individual Photography Fellowship, a Pew Fellowship for the Arts and a Leeway Foundation Transformation Award.

About 'Making American Artists'

With over one hundred of the most acclaimed and iconic pieces in American art on display, Making American Artists: Stories from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 1776–1976 takes you on a journey across time, medium, and identity.

The exhibition offers new narratives in American art history, embracing stories about women artists, LGBTQIA+ artists, and artists of color. It also poses central questions about the artist’s experience: what did it mean to be an American artist when the nation was founded? How had that changed by the late-twentieth century?

Organized by theme—portraiture, history painting, still life, genre scenes, and landscape—and not chronology, the exhibition affords the opportunity to enjoy familiar works in a new light and find new favorites.

Each of the featured artists’ careers were shaped by PAFA, whether through their education or the exhibition and display of their work. Making American Artists critically re-examines PAFA’s legacy while shedding light on its continuing role in shaping American art of the twenty-first century.

Making American Artists is also your final chance to see these beloved works before they temporarily leave PAFA on a national exhibition tour, organized by the American Federation of Arts, from June 2023–May 2025.