Penn Libraries welcomed Samantha Hill as Curator for Civic Engagement. An award-winning transdisciplinary artist whose practice draws on archives and oral histories collected by individuals and communities, Ms. Hill was born in Philadelphia, was recently based in Chicago, and has worked with communities in Anchorage, Alaska; Macon, Georgia; and Charlotte, North Carolina.
Ms. Hill is the founder and principal investigator of the Kinship Project, a special collection that contains 4,000 candid and professional family photos (photographs, scrapbooks, tintype and digital images), mostly African Americans, from across the country. . By simultaneously playing the role of artist, archivist and anthropologist, she engages communities in the development of multimedia installations and performances anchored in individual and community memory.
“Penn Libraries have made it a strategic priority to intentionally build awareness and engagement that positively impact local communities,” said Constantia Constantinou, vice-chancellor of H. Carton Rogers III and director of Penn Libraries. “Samantha’s expertise in all disciplines and her deep experience in building partnerships will be invaluable to our work on campus and throughout Philadelphia. “
As a member of the Penn Libraries’ Kislak Center curatorial team for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Ms. Hill will bring to the Kislak Center her expertise in preserving and accessing cultural heritage to communities across the city of Philadelphia and surrounding areas. Although the Penn Libraries are an active collecting institution, Ms. Hill expects to work in a post-custodial model, where memory artefacts are not extracted from the communities that create and nourish them. Instead, Penn’s experience in processing, preserving, digitizing, and accessing this material could help advance the goals of these communities while promoting research and teaching.
As Curator for Civic Engagement, Ms. Hill will also be a member of Civic House, Penn’s center for student civic engagement, which centers community organizations and social justice education. Founded in 1998, Civic House runs a variety of initiatives, including the Penn Civic Scholars Program, which involves up to 15 students in each class seeking to integrate their civic engagement and scholarship experiences as students. undergraduate.
Ms. Hill comes to Penn from the University of Michigan, where she earned a master’s degree in information science. She also obtained a Masters of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute in Chicago.