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Announcing “To the Polls,” A Warehouse Mural Exhibition to Encourage Civic Participation in the Midterm Elections

August 29, 2018

(Wheatpaste by Marisa Velázquez-Rivas, banner by Alloyius Mcilwaine,
sticker by Blur; photos by Conrad Benner)

So excited to announce To the Polls, a pre-election mural exhibition featuring the work of 10 Philadelphia artists in the warehouse space at 448 North 10th Street in Spring Arts, created in partnership with Mural Arts PhiladelphiaTo the Polls aims to excite the electorate, encouraging civic engagement to counter historically low voter turnout for midterm elections.

Curated by StreetsDept.com’s founder Conrad Benner (aka me), all 10 artists participating in To the Polls have a history of using their work to promote activism, empowerment, and engagement:

Loveis Wise
Wit López
Willis “Nomo” Humphrey
Nilé Livingston
Marisa Velázquez-Rivas
YOMI
Blur
Joe Boruchow
Alloyius Mcilwaine
Busta

Each artist has been asked to create an 8×8-foot temporary mural that rallies the Philadelphia community around civic participation through the act of voting. The exhibition will be on view from September 26, 2018 through October 3, 2018, with viewing hours and on-site voter registration from 12-5pm with the exception of September 29. Two public events will activate the exhibition space:

Wednesday, September 26, 5–8pm
To the Polls Exhibition Opening, FREE
Find the Facebook Event Page here, if you’d like to invite your friends!

Monday, October 1, 6–8pm
To the Polls Artist Panel Discussion with Curator Conrad Benner, FREE
Panelists to be announced.
Find the Facebook Event Page here, if you’d like to invite your friends!

The problem is clear, people aren’t voting. Even in the hotly contested 2016 Presidential Election, ​only​ 64% of registered voters in Philly went to the polls. To make matters worse, about 346,000 of Philadelphia’s 1.2 million residents of voting age are not currently registered to vote ​[S​ource, Philly Mag]​.​ But it seems things might be turning around and there are some good early signs that people are starting to participate again. For one, voter turnout was 69% higher in Philadelphia for the Primaries of the 2017 Municipal D.A. Election than it was in the last D.A. race in 2013​ [Source, Philly Mag]. And as of right now, PA leads the nation in a youth voter registration surge [Source, New York Times].

Our temporary mural exhibition will create a space for visitors to share inspiring and critical ideas with their friends, family, and loved ones, all through the lens of art. The artists have been encouraged to create artwork that explores the many complex issues affecting Philadelphians today, as well as rallying civic engagement and voter participation more generally.

To the Polls will investigate whether art can effectively illustrate the stakes of national issues, and remind people of the power of collective action. The exhibition opens two weeks before voter registration closes for the Pennsylvania midterm elections on October 9, and will act to encourage and excite Philadelphians about their capacity to influence the world around them.

Hope y’all will join us!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. @fazimoto permalink
    August 30, 2018 7:48 am

    This is just awesome.

  2. August 30, 2018 9:50 am

    Several reasons why people have quit voting. Narrow choices among capitalists. No expectation of profound change. Media resistance to new voices and new ideas. Mudslinging and soap operas rather than policy discussion.

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