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Philadelphia: You’re About to Get 21 New “Monuments,” Here’s the First One

July 17, 2017

Philadelphia, meet your first of 21 new, temporary monuments apart of Mural Arts Philadelphia‘s Monument Lab exhibition. (Full disclosure: I’m on the Monument Lab advisory committee, so I’m really quite excited for this project, as I hope you are too!)

Monument Lab, which will kick-off in full swing across Philadelphia from September 16 through November 19, is a public art and history project that’s inviting people to join a citywide conversation about history, memory, and our collective future. The nearly two month public exhibition will feature newly created “monuments” from 21 local and international artists who will address issues from representation and what histories we choose to remember in the public space, to completely rethinking what can serve as a monument. Artists invited to participate in Monument Lab include Mel Chin, Tyree Guyton, Sharon Hayes, KLIP Collective, Michelle Angela Ortiz, RAIR – Recycled Artist in Residency, Jamel Shabazz, Hank Willis Thomas, Zoe Strauss, King Britt, and Joshua Mays, among others. (See a full artist list here.) The exhibition, curated by Paul M. Farber and Ken Lum, picks up from a successful research and development phase undertaken in spring 2015.

This inaugural installation, titled Sample Philly, is by Philly-based artist Kara Crombie and it’s located in Franklin Square: “A sound bank of musical loops and samples drawn from Philadelphia’s rich musical history, artist Kara Crombie’s Sample Philly attempts to answer the question at the heart of Monument Lab: What is your vision for a monument that represents Philadelphia?” (

In describing her intent with Sample Philly, Kara goes on to say: “I know there are a lot of creative and talented young people in this city who don’t have access to the tools they need to express themselves, so I really hope that this project can serve as an outlet for creative expression for those children, as well as an educational doorway into a collective cultural history that could potentially inspire them.”

“An important part of this project, though, is to advocate for more permanent resources for these creative and marginalized kids who lack music and art in their public education. Because part of the concept is to give children in our community access to music production tools, I’ve been incorporating social outreach in the project with music production workshops. I’ve been working with these teenagers at The Advocate Center for Culture and Education for about a year now—I record them and help them produce their music. I’d like to expand this program into a more permanent and equipped studio that would provide free music education and production resources for children in Philadelphia. So ideally, Sample Philly would bring awareness to the larger goal of empowering our city’s children with the tools of self-expression.”

Learn more about Monument Lab, coming to Philadelphia this fall, here!

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