Paul Farber is Director and Co-Founder of Monument Lab, a Philadelphia-based organization working with artists, students, educators, activists, municipal agencies, and cultural institutions to facilitate critical conversations around the past, present, and future of monuments, approaches to public engagement, and collective memory. He also serves as Senior Research Scholar at the Center for Public Art & Space at the University of Pennsylvania.
A highly collaborative pilot project between Monument Lab and UMMA will encompass curatorial research around the intersection of Michigan history, public art, and monuments, and will culminate in an artist commission for 2023 that explores the history of UMMA’s Alumni Memorial Hall as a monument.
Farber and the team at Monument Lab were the inaugural grantees of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s “Monuments Project,” a $250 Million initiative to “transform the way our country’s histories are told in public spaces,” including Monument Lab’s National Monument Audit and the opening of research field offices throughout the United States. Farber has co-curated Monument Lab projects including its original Philadelphia City Hall discovery exhibition (Philadelphia, 2015), citywide public art and history exhibition (Philadelphia, 2017), A Call to Peace (Military Park Newark, 2019), Public Iconographies (Pulitzer Foundation, 2019 – 2020), and Staying Power (Village of Arts and Humanities, 2021).
Farber’s research and curatorial projects explore transnational urban history, cultural memory, and creative approaches to civic engagement. He is author of A Wall of Our Own: An American History of the Berlin Wall (University of North Carolina Press, 2020) which tells the untold story of a group of American artists and writers (Leonard Freed, Angela Davis, Shinkichi Tajiri, and Audre Lorde) who found refuge along the Berlin Wall and in Cold War Germany in order to confront political divisions back home in the United States. He is also co-editor with Ken Lum of Monument Lab: Creative Speculations for Philadelphia (Temple University Press, 2019), a public art and history handbook designed to generate new critical ways of thinking about and building monuments.
In addition to his work with Monument Lab, Farber served as curator for the inaugural Artist-in-Residence Program at the Office of the District Attorney of Philadelphia (2020), keynote speaker for the Americans for the Arts national conference (2020), and Scholar in Residence at Mural Arts Philadelphia (2015 – 2017). He serves as an advisor to numerous monument and memorial projects including for the City of Newark and the Emmett Till Interpretive Center.
Presented in partnership with The University of Michigan Museum of Art, with additional support from U‑M’s Democracy & Debate 2022 – 23 and U‑M Arts Initiative. Series presenting partners: Detroit Public Television and PBS Books. Media partner: Michigan Radio.
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