Pepón Osorio, the internationally renowned artist who lives and works in Philadelphia, is one of a diverse group of artists, writers, scholars, and scientists who received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2021. Chosen each year from a pool of approximately 3,000 applicants, Guggenheim Fellows are those who have “demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts.” Other 2021 grantees in the Fine Arts category include Amy Adler, Brandon Ballengée, Lisa Beck, Dara Birnbaum, A.K. Burns, Crystal Z Campbell, Enrique Chagoya, William Cordova, Luba Drozd, Emil Ferris, Eve Fowler, Lilian Garcia-Roig, Michelle Grabner, Diana Guerrero-Maciá, Josephine Halvorson, Karen Lofgren, Sung Hwan Kim, Jesse Krimes, Karen Lofgren, and Elizabeth Malaska. Learn more about the Fellowship and see a list of grantees on the Guggenheim Foundation website.
Osorio creates installations that incorporate images and artifacts from daily life in Puerto Rico and in Latino communities on the mainland. His work explores the processes of cultural transmission, as well as the construction of social and cultural identity.
The Association for Public Art (aPA) commissioned Pepón Osorio’s first permanent public art installation, I have a story to tell you…(2003), for Congreso de Latinos Unidos in North Philadelphia as part of the aPA’s New•Land•Marks program. Osorio worked with clients and staff from Congreso to gather photographs from personal collections, selecting images that reflect shared experience and depict local events that have impacted community life. These photographs were enlarged and transferred to glass panels, which were installed in the building as windows and also used to create an outdoor “casita” in the nearby courtyard.
Osorio creates installations that incorporate images and artifacts from daily life in Puerto Rico and in Latinx communities on the mainland. His work explores the processes of cultural transmission, as well as the construction of social and cultural identity. “My principal concern,” says Osorio, “is to return art to the community. My creative process is one of listening to stories, uncovering histories, channeling collective experiences, and transforming these into artworks that can serve as reflections of the group.” His installations grow from a dialogue among community members, social service providers, and the commissioning institution.
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Osorio is currently a Laura H. Carnell Professor at Temple University’s Tyler School of the Art and Architecture. His work has been exhibited at the Whitney Biennial and other international art biennials, as well as El Museo del Barrio, NYC; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; the Institute of Contemporary Arts, Philadelphia; and elsewhere. Among his other honors are the John D. and Catherine T. McArthur Foundation Fellowship; the Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture; the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Biennial Award; an Alpert Award in the Arts–Visual Arts; and a Lifetime Achievement Award from CAA.
Earlier this year, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) acquired Osorio’s 1995 installation, Badge of Honor.
Top photo: James Abbott © 2003 for the Association for Public Art