Common Ground#898

A conversation with The Fabric Workshop & Museum

Featuring Harry Philbrick, DJ Hellerman, and Debra Bricker Balken, with Thomas Devaney


1 p.m. Eastern / 10 a.m. Pacific

Interim Executive Director of The Fabric Workshop and Museum Harry Philbrick and Chief Curator DJ Hellerman join Rail contributor Debra Bricker Balken for a conversation. We conclude with a poetry reading by Thomas Devaney.

In this talk

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Harry Philbrick

Photo of Harry Philbrick
Photo by M Slater
Harry Philbrick has over 25 years of experience in museum management, exhibition development, and educational programming. Philbrick is keenly aware of the challenges of making contemporary art accessible to a wide variety of audiences. Philbrick became the Interim Executive Director of the Fabric Workshop and Museum in 2023, leading this innovative artist-focused institution through a strategic repositioning. Philbrick founded Philadelphia Contemporary in 2016. From 2011 – 2016 he was Director of the Museum at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, known internationally for its collections of 19th- and 20th-century American art. From 1996 - 2010 he was Director of The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum.

DJ Hellerman

Photo of DJ Hellerman
DJ Hellerman is Chief Curator & Director of Curatorial Affairs at The Fabric Workshop & Museum, where he leads the research and implementation of artist-centered projects, exhibitions, and programming. He is committed to building relationships based on trust, effective communication, and vulnerability to allow for the openness and intimacy essential to creating meaningful work. Working with artists across context-sensitive, intergenerational, and interdisciplinary projects, DJ focuses on artistic process; the relationship between art, technology, and spirituality; place-based art making; early use of video as an artform; and the development of alternative cultural institutions. Recent exhibitions include Henry Taylor: Nothing Change, Nothing Strange, among many others.

Debra Bricker Balken

A portrait of Debra Bricker Balken
Debra Bricker Balken is an award-winning independent curator, scholar, and writer who has assembled numerous exhibitions on subjects relating to the American modernism and contemporary art for major museums internationally. Her recent publications include Arthur Dove, A Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings and Things (Yale University Press, 2021), Harold Rosenberg, A Critic’s Life (University of Chicago Press, 2021) and Alex Katz: Collaborations with Poets (GRAY and Artbook | D.A.P. 2023) She is currently serving as the lead curator on Americans in Paris, Artists Working in Postwar France, 1946-1962 for the Grey Art Gallery at New York University among other projects.

The Rail has a tradition of ending our conversations with a poetry reading, and we’re fortunate to have Thomas Devaney reading.

Thomas Devaney

Photo of Thomas Devaney
Photo by Patrick Montero
Thomas Devaney is the author of six books, including Getting to Philadelphia (Hanging Loose Press, 2019), You Are the Battery (Black Square Editions, 2019), and The Picture that Remains, a collaboration with photographer Will Brown (The Print Center, 2014). He wrote and co-directed the film Bicentennial City (2020), which is an exploration of the legacy of Philadelphia’s 1976 Bicentennial celebration. Devaney is a Pew Fellow in the Arts and published in Best American Poetry and the Brooklyn Rail. The lit hub Blue Stoop : A Home for Philly was named after his poem “The Blue Stoop.” Devaney teaches creative writing at Haverford College and works at the Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation at Drexel University.

❤️ 🌈 We'd like to thank the The Terra Foundation for American Art for making these daily conversations possible, and for their support of our growing archive.