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The View From Above the New Comcast Building, Part II

September 24, 2017

As I announced last week, this month’s Streets Dept + WeFilmPhilly collaboration video is a two-parter that explores the heights of Philly’s growing skyline with the addition of the new Comcast Technology Center. And today, we’re thrilled to share Part II!

Check out Part I here, and learn more about my new year-long partnership WeFilmPhilly that will be documenting Philly’s public art and architecture from new angles here!

Philly’s Streets Are Slowly Filling Up with Protest Street Signs

September 22, 2017

All around Philly, protest signs in the form of street signs have begun popping up. I saw the first one in person (photographed above) on North Broad street last week, then another posted by a friend on Instagram located in Fishtown. Each had the hashtag #ActivismAtWork on it.

The sign I saw read, ‘Hurry: Our Rights Are at Risk.’ After checking the hashtag on Instagram, I saw other signs posted which read, ‘Build Bridges, Not Walls,’ ‘Do Not Give Up,’ and ‘Resist.’

Searching the hashtag on Google, I found that the signs were all available for purchase on the Philadelphia-based clothing company Feminist Apparel‘s website. So, I reached out to Feminist Apparel’s Executive Director, Alan Martofel, to learn more. His response follows:

“The campaign is still very much in its infancy. We’ve created a series of #ActivismAtWork street signs for folks to put up around their communities. The idea behind the campaign and offering the street signs is in line with our ongoing mission of sparking dialogue surrounding intersectional feminist issues. We enjoy using street signs as a medium (a well we’re going back to after the successful campaign we did a few years ago with Pussy Division on the ‘No Catcalling Anytime’ street signs) because of the fact that they represent a form of communication typically handed down to us by our legislative bodies with the intent of guiding our actions for the sake of our protection and safety. That being said, we think that with the current state of governance in our country, there are a few sentiments that are as crucial for our safety that we need to be just as explicitly reminded of now, such as ‘Build Bridges, Not Walls,’ ‘RESIST,’ and ‘Hurry, Our Rights Are At Risk.’ You should start seeing more of these street signs pop up in the coming weeks, and hopefully beyond just Philadelphia.”

So whether you can/want to purchase your own #ActivismAtWork street signs, or just enjoy them as others install them around Philly (and beyond,) I definitely count myself as a fan of this project, and I’m excited to see where it goes!

Swoon Retrospective Opens Today at Cincinnati’s Contemporary Arts Center

September 22, 2017

Caledonia Curry (aka Swoon) is an outright legend in the international street art community, and today she opens her first-ever career (thus far!) retrospective at Cincinnati’s Contemporary Arts Center!

Swoon started putting her artwork on the streets of New York City in 1999, when she was in school there studying at the Pratt Institute. Through hard work, persistence, and incredible talent, her career took off in the 2000s. As the bio reads on her website: “Swoon has spent the last 14 years exploring the relationship between people and their built environments. Her early interventions in the urban landscape took the form of wheat-pasting portraits to the walls of cities around the world, and her public practice has expanded to using art to rebuild communities and humanize today’s most pressing social and environmental issues.”

I personally have loved Swoon’s work for, honestly, as long as I can remember. Hell, one of the very first posts to this blog was sharing the video of Swoon’s TED Talk in 2011. And over the years I’ve counted myself as lucky to see a few Swoon pieces in person, including when she installed in Fishtown apart of Mural Arts Philadelphia‘s Open Source exhibition in 2015.

Titled The Canyon: 1999-2017, this retrospective will be the first time that we’re able to look at the entire story of Swoon’s creative progression, from the earliest street works to the large scale sculptures and immersive installations, all the way through to the socially engaged projects in places like Haiti and New Orleans. It opens today, and will be open through February 25, 2018.

If you’re in Cincinnati, or planning to be there in the next few months, I couldn’t suggest more strongly that you check this out. For those who can’t make it to Cincinnati, Swoon has also created a website that will host works from each year since 1999. This website, the Archivist’s Circle, will serve as a parallel to the exhibition for anyone who has enjoyed or supported Swoon’s work over the years and would like now to be a part of supporting this pivotal moment in her artistic career.

Interviews with Street Artists: A Chat with Inphltrate

September 20, 2017

If you’re like me, a lover of street art and someone whose eyes are always scanning walls for new work, then chances are you have seen a lot of work around Philly over the last year or so by an artist who goes by the name Inphltrate. That’s because Inphltrate has created a recognizable wheatpaste mold that’s as eye-catching as it is haunting: a coffin wrapped in a waving banner that reads heartfelt quotes from the artist. Curious to learn more, this week I interviewed Inphltrate…

Streets Dept: Hey Inphltrate! So first, I’m wondering how long have you been creating art?
Inphltrate: I’ve been creating for as long as I can remember. It has been and always will be my passion.

SD: Did you go to school for art, then?
I: Yeah, I graduated from Hussian College, which is a small digital media focused school in old city. I received my BFA in graphic design there.

SD: How long have you been creating street art?
I: I’ve been wheatpasting around Philly since October of last year.

SD: Tell me about the coffins! What inspired this series?
I: The inspiration behind the coffins is very personal. It came at a time in my life where things took a 180 and crashed. It was an overall eruption of emotions that inspired me to paste my thoughts to the streets, even if what I had to say was not so nice. (Sorry not sorry) These coffins have allowed me to vent and bitch my heart out. I like to think of them as my triumph over the pain I once willingly felt. These coffins were only meant to be a four part series, however I’m beginning to rethink that due to the positive feedback and love I’ve received about them. I wanted to paste not only something for me, but something that anyone could relate to…something unexpected that you could randomly spot on a street corner and it would make you feel as strong as it has made me.

SD: It looks like from your Instagram feed that you used to mostly post images of other Philly street artists’ work, did Philly’s street art scene inspire you to put your artwork on the street?
I: As an artist myself, I naturally appreciated the street art I would randomly discover around the city, however since participating myself, I have found a whole new respect/view for street art and those who tag and paste. This inspiration really hit me after I had begun pasting. The rush, risk, and freedom to express yourself is beyond fulfilling. For me it’s not just about the Instagram “likes.” Pasting your personal artwork on the streets goes beyond “breaking rules.” It’s a feeling like no other. You’re letting yourself be exposed while also welcoming the possibility to be critiqued by everyone. But more importantly it gives you power, it let’s you speak and be heard without actually saying a word.

SD: Do you have a website or a Bigcartel site? How can people support you?
I: I do not have a website yet, but one is currently in the making! In the meantime I will be selling posters of my work which you can message me about directly on Instagram.

Thanks so much for the chat, Inphltrate. Look forward to seeing your series grow and continue!

The View From Above the New Comcast Building, Part I

September 17, 2017

Excited today to release my September #PhillyMinute collaboration with WeFilmPhilly, going up and over the Comcast Technology Center and exploring the heights of Philly’s growing skyline!

As I announced in August, over the next year Streets Dept will be partnering with WeFilmPhilly to explore and document Philly’s public art and architecture from new angles using aerial drone footage and sound recorded from the ground. A new video will be released monthly – with the exception of this month. That’s because we shot two Comcast Technology Center-themed videos for September that we love so much that we’re just going to share both… So stay tuned for Part 2, coming soon!

Philly Just Installed an Afro Pick Next to the Rizzo Statue

September 12, 2017

Y’all, I freaking LOVE this!

Today, artist Hank Willis Thomas installed an Afro pick sculpture that stands eight feet tall and weighs close to 800 pounds in Center City’s Thomas Paine Plaza, mere feet from the disputed Frank Rizzo statue. Hank’s installation was created for Monument Lab, a city-wide exhibition opening this Saturday, September 16th, that will display 20 temporary, artist-created “prototype monuments” across Philly. The exhibition’s goal is to explore how and why we build the monuments that we do, and how we can make the process of creating monuments more democratic and include the multitude of voices and histories our cities truly comprise. And as I announced this week, I believe so deeply in this exhibition that I’ve just joined its Curatorial Team.

Hank Willis Thomas’ installation is a public art intervention around identity and representation in Philadelphia. Titled All Power to All People, its placement is symbolic, the artist adds, “to highlight ideas related to community, strength, perseverance, comradeship, and resistance to oppression.”

Over the years, a handful of Philly street artists, including Ishknits in 2012 and Joe Boruchow in 2016, have created work that criticizes the fact that we even have a monument to Frank Rizzo, easily the most divisive local politician in Philadelphia’s modern history. Let alone the fact that we have a statue to Rizzo in the heart of our city, just steps away from City Hall.

While today’s installation is not a direct call for its removal, Hank Willis Thomas’ temporary monument can stand as a resistance to the oppression that the Rizzo statue represents to so many Philadelphians.

Philly’s ‘Monument Lab’ Exhibition Kicks Off This Week, Here Are The Two Events You Can’t Miss

September 10, 2017

(‘The Battle Is Joined,’ a Monument Lab installation by artist Karyn Olivier at Vernon Park; photos courtesy of Mural Arts Philadelphia)

Philly is about to host a two month, city-wide exhibition that’s focused on the question that every city in the U.S. (and likely many around the world) are asking themselves right now: what are appropriate monuments for our cities? The exhibition is called Monument Lab, it kicks-off on September 16th, and there’s two kick-off events this week that you will not want to miss! But first, a little related announcement…

I’m so excited to tell y’all, today, that I’ve joined the Monument Lab Curatorial Team! I will be working with the Monument Lab team through the entirety of the exhibition as their Social Media Lead to tell the stories and goals of this much-needed exhibition through social media. So, if you’re not already, I strongly encourage you to like/follow Monument Lab’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram now to follow along!

Monument Lab is a public art and history project by curators Paul M. Farber and Ken Lum, produced with Mural Arts Philadelphia, that’s inviting Philadelphians and visitors to join a city-wide conversation about history, memory, and our collective future. Starting September 16th and through November 19th, Monument Lab will exhibit 20 new temporary monuments from 20 emerging and world-renown artists at 10 public spaces across Philadelphia. Over the two months of the exhibition, there will be regular events, panel discussions, tours, and conversations as well as interactive pop-up “laboratories” at each of the 10 sites where you will be asked to tell us what you think is an appropriate monument for the current city of Philadelphia for a report that will be delivered to The City in 2018. There will also be a central hub at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts where you can explore the exhibition in its entirety.

This exhibition is asking how and why we build the monuments we do, and how we can make the process of creating monuments more democratic and include the multitude of voices and histories our cities truly comprise. Current events have, of course, made this exhibition even more timely. And I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that Philadelphia can lead a conversation that every city in the country should be having right now.

If you are as exited about this exhibition as I am, there are two kick-off events that you can not miss this week: The first, How to Make a Monument, where you can hear from world-renowned participating Monument Lab artists Mel Chin, Tania Bruguera, and Emeka Ogboh, plus the curators Paul M. Farber and Ken Lum, Mural Arts’ Jane Golden, and Mayor Jim Kenney. The second, Monument Lab’s kick-off day at City Hall Courtyard.

Hope to see y’all out this week!

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