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New Philly Mural Celebrates Queer Femme Identity

June 18, 2018

Awesome new mural collaboration this week by queer, Philly-based artists Santiago Galeas and Eva Wǒ on Hamilton street between 10th and 11th streets in Spring Arts!

“The mural is an effort through imagery to express pride in who we are and what we stand for.” Eva responded when I reached out to the artists for an interview, “Since its commission and installation came in conjunction of Philly Pride Week, I wanted us to choose a femme figure as queer femmes are often invisibilized and/or left out of LGBTQ representation.”

“This mural is actually a re-imagination of a painting I was working on already [which you can see here.]” Santiago continued, “The subject is the coordinator for TrueQué Residencia Artistica, a residency I attended last year in Ecuador. Last year’s theme celebrated the 20th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality in Ecuador. It was a really intense experience that changed the way I think about the work I make. He’s silhouetted because we wanted the figure’s gender not to be a given. By societal standards, his clothes are expressing one gender, and his body perhaps another. Being queer can extend to not fitting these stipulations. I think both of our work has a lot to do with representation, so we felt it was important to have this figure out in the open. This concept can’t be seen as normal if it’s never seen at all. Which is why I had to paint it again! But this time on a wall.”

“Like Santiago said, it’s important to have images out in the open that challenge and expand upon the possibilities people are given for their gender expression and queerness.” Eva added, “We imagine the image as a homage to our queer ancestors who paved the way for us to exist as we do today while affirming gender nonconformity. The location of the mural on the edge of Chinatown is important too… the the neighborhood is being threatened and the culture erased by gentrification, so I included Chinese characters as a way to speak directly to residents and passersby, as a reminder that they’re not invisible.”

The mural is Santiago’s first, and the first outdoors for Eva (who’s very first mural is indoors, and you can check that out here.) It was made possible by The City’s Office of LGBT AffairsArts + Crafts Holdings, and InLiquid to have ready for this year’s Art for the Cash Poor as well as to coincide with Pride month. The collaboration itself came about through the recommendation of a mutual colleague, Wit López, who Santiago and Eva both met while participating in the 40th Street Artist in Residence Program and who was working with the Office of LGBT Affairs recommending artists for this project. 

Both artists are eager to create more murals in Philly’s public spaces – and I for one would LOVE to see their work and the work of more queer artists around our city. So, if you’re interested in commissioning them, you can contact Santiago here and Eva here.

In the meantime, here’s how you can support both artists now: Check out Santiago’s current exhibition with Meg Wolensky, titled ‘Being Seen,’ that’s up at the 40th Street AIR Gallery (4007 Chestnut street, see gallery hours here – there’s only a few days left.) And check out the free music video screening that Eva is curating on Thursday, August 9th at the Rotunda (check their calendar here in August.) Eva will also be showing work as part of the Leeway Foundation’s 25-year anniversary exhibition at Moore College this Fall, so stay tuned for that!

Thanks so much for the interview, Santiago and Eva!

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