• Reading Public Museum
    Open 11a-5p Daily Admission
  • Neag Planetarium
    Show Schedule Admission
  • Arboretum
    Open everyday from sunrise to sunset

      As familiar nostalgic pinks and somber blues come to life on canvases embellishing the tall, white walls of The Reading Public Museum, there is a palpable energy radiating through this collection. Stepping into the space, visitors are greeted by the captivating work of contemporary figurative painter Ayana Ross. When viewing her work, a sense of memorability seeps through as she conveys a vast array of emotions felt by all age groups and genders. 

      From February 17, 2024, to June 2, 2024, RPM is exhibiting Ross’ work in a new solo exhibition entitled Ayana Ross: Whence You Came. Against the backdrop of February and March’s celebration of Black culture and women’s history respectively, Ross’ artwork stands as a tribute to the creativity and narrative power of Black female artists. Through her unique perspective, often motivated by her family roots in the American South, Ross pushes viewers to acknowledge everyday people and moments, while also understanding ideas of race, identity, and social issues. By focusing on the day-to-day in her work, Ross allows spectators to analyze shared human experiences and the world around us, while also using her canvases as a medium to inform.   

Ayana Ross (American, b. 1977) Writing in the Sand, 2022. Oil on panel. Loan, courtesy of the artist.

      Each of Ross’ paintings represents more than meets the eye. For example, Writing in the Sand depicts a girl pensively sitting and drawing in the sand at the beach while a young man looks back at her. While the portrait might seem like an ordinary day at the beach, it is anything but. Ross addresses the deeper meaning in her portfolio by stating that this artwork is a reminder of how the past influences the present. “We have to ask ourselves if our children are able to sense the history that came before them. Is it written in the sand?” she states.  

       Ross earned a BS in Apparel Design and Merchandising from Georgia Southern University and started as a designer and administrator in the fashion industry. After receiving a K-12 Teaching Certification in Art Education from Greensboro College and an MA in Liberal Arts from the University of North Carolina Greensboro, Ross began a career in teaching art in public schools and through private lessons. In 2021, she completed an MFA in Painting from the Savannah College of Art and Design. 

       In addition to her extensive academic background and experience in creative professions, Ross received the Bennett Prize in 2021, which grants a female artist the opportunity to travel the country with a solo exhibition of figurative realist paintings. This award empowers new artists, allowing them to gain professional recognition for their unique perspectives. Through this prize and beyond, Ross has had solo exhibitions at the Reading Public Museum (2024), the Muskegon Museum of Art (2023, 2021), Timeless Truths (2022), and the Arnot Art Museum (2021). Ross has also shown her work in a variety of group exhibitions, including at the Gutstein Gallery (2023) and 6XTOne, a city-wide exhibit honoring the 61st mayor of Atlanta, Georgia.  

 The Reading Public Museum is located at 500 Museum Road Reading, PA 19611 and is open to the public every day from 11am-5pm. 


April 9, 2024


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