You'd be right to expect a rash of politically motivated shows this spring. And there are a few — mostly in the college galleries. They feature artists who've been in their own particular trenches for a number of years, and not without some personal risk.
The subversive, anonymous Guerrilla Girls get a retrospective at Moore College of Art and Design. Philadelphia's Diane Burko has a show of paintings and photos at Rowan University Art Gallery documenting the planet's melting glaciers. At Haverford College, Jacqueline Hoang Nguyen's "Black Atlas" explores issues of race, labor, and the shipment of artifacts — to Stockholm.
The spring forecast also promises lots of color, in paintings that emphasize its inherently expressive qualities. Some noteworthy shows in this vein are Cary Leibowitz at Fleisher/Ollman Gallery, Kazimira Rachfal at Larry Becker Contemporary Art, and Neysa Grassi at Locks Gallery.
Another highlight: The University of Pennsylvania's Arthur Ross Gallery showcases 30 impressionist and post-impressionist ink prints from Mr. Ross' own collection — by Cezanne, Daumier, Degas, Gauguin, Manet, Matisse, and more — visiting from the Yale University Art Gallery.
Kazimira Rachfal (Feb. 10-March 17, Larry Becker Contemporary Art). The New York-based artist's first solo show here, with small oil-on-linen paintings of a single, icon-like shape against a color field built up from multiple thin veils of paint. (215-925-5389, artnet.com/galleries/larry-becker-contemporary-art)
Paul Cava/Inks (Feb. 14-March 30, Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral). A painting on wood and four series of works on paper incorporating photos and black, white, and gold inks that began as the artist's response to the Cambodian genocide under the Khmer Rouge regime. (215-386-0234, philadelphiacathedral.org)
Neysa Grassi: The Beginning of Everything (Feb. 22-March 31, Locks Gallery). Recent abstract paintings by this Philadelphia artist that suggest waterfalls, storms, loss, longing, and an affection for the moody 19th-century landscape paintings of Gustave Courbet and Albert Pinkham Ryder. (215-629-1000, locksgallery.com)
Bill Beckley (March 1-April 20, Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery, University of the Arts). A survey of photographs of seemingly everyday scenes paired with mysterious texts, from a leading figure in narrative art. (215-717-6481, uarts.edu/about/rosenwald-wolf-gallery)
Diane Burko: Vast and Vanishing (March 8-April 18, Rowan University Art Gallery). A series of large-scale paintings and photographs by the landscape painter turned environmental artist documenting glacial recession. (856-256-4521, rowan.edu/artgallery)
Osvaldo Romberg (May 26-June 30, Pentimenti Gallery). Conceptual paintings, sculptures, and works on paper by the Argentine artist and curator. Romberg has a concurrent exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art from May 25-Sept. 30. (215-625-9990, pentimenti.com)
Anthony Goicolea: Figure/Ground (through Feb. 22, List Gallery, Swarthmore College). Photographs and mixed-media works made between 2007 and 2013, including his signature large-scale Cibachrome prints depicting human interventions in nature. (610-328-8488, Swarthmore.edu/list-gallery)
Black Atlas: Jacqueline Hoang Nguyen (through March 9, Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery, Haverford College). An installation by a Stockholm-based artist who uses archival materials to investigate utopian politics, multiculturalism, and other topics — in this case photos and documents from Stockholm's Museum of Ethnography involving race, labor, and the shipment of artifacts. (610-896-1287, haverford.edu/exhibits)
Not Ready to Make Nice: Guerrilla Girls in the Artworld and Beyond (through March 17, the Galleries at Moore, Moore College of Art and Design). A traveling exhibition surveying the collective's actions and campaigns over the past three decades, curated by Chicago's Neysa Page-Lieberman. (215-965-4044, thegalleriesatmoore.org)
Where the Artists Are (in their studios) (through March 18, Leonard Pearlstein Gallery, Drexel University). A look into the art-making habits of Drexel University professors Lewis Colburn, Anda Dubinskis, and Mark Stockton, with Colburn's sculptures, Dubinskis' drawings and paintings, and Stockton's drawings. (215-895-2548, drexel.edu/pearlsteingallery)
Justin Kimball: Elegy (through March 24, Open Lens Gallery, Gershman Y). An exhibition in partnership with the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, featuring Kimball's color photographs of American communities that became impoverished after the financial crisis of 2008. (215-545-4400, gershmany.org)
Impressions in Ink (through March 25, Arthur Ross Gallery, University of Pennsylvania). An exhibition organized with Yale University Art Gallery of 30 prints by French impressionists and post-impressionists drawn from the collection of Arthur Ross, including works by Cezanne, Daumier, Degas, Gauguin, Manet, Matisse, Pissarro, and Toulouse-Lautrec. (215-898-2083, ArthurRossGallery.org)
Richard Mosse: Behind Here Lies Nothin' (through April 15, Arcadia University Art Gallery). Infrared photographs from the series "Heat Maps," documenting the travels and camps of refugees en route to Europe, and "Infra," covering the violent conflict between the Congolese army and rebels in eastern Congo. (215-572-2131, gallery.arcadia.edu)
Collaborative Histories: Dieu Donné (through April 21, Print Center). Curator John Caperton organized this exhibition of works by Polly Apfelbaum, Chuck Close, Anne Hamilton, William Kentridge, Ursula von Rydingsvard, and other artists who've made prints and artist books at Dieu Donné, the sine qua non of hand papermaking that moved from its longtime SoHo headquarters to the Brooklyn Navy Yard in 2016. (215-735-6090, printcenter.org)