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Philly: Let’s Find A Home for this Monument to Freedom For Detained Families

January 19, 2020

(Photo above courtesy of Dave Tavani, photos below courtesy of Michelle Angela Ortiz)

In 2017, Philly artist Michelle Angela Ortiz created a temporary monument to freedom for the detained families at the Berks Detention Center, titled Flores de Libertad. The monument was one of 20 built and temporarily installed around Philly a part of Monument Lab (created with support from Mural Arts Philadelphia). Now, the artist is looking for a permanent home for the monument!

Flores de Libertad is a 10’ x 40’ installation of dyed paper flowers spelling the word “Libertad” (Freedom/ Liberty). The flowers carry messages of freedom and the continued fight against family detention. And they were made by more than 100 participants including students, educators, and families in Philadelphia, as well as mothers detained at Berks. On October 25, 2017, the artwork was installed outside Philadelphia City Hall during a visit by Governor Tom Wolf, who has the power to shut down the Berks Detention Center and end family detention in Pennsylvania.

While all the monuments created for Monument Lab were originally intended to be temporary, at least one has had a second life. Participating Monument Lab artist, Hank Willis Thomas, had his artwork, All Power to All People, permanently acquired by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 2018. Now Michelle is hoping the same can happen for her monument, and she’s opened a call for interested institutions.

Over email, Michelle mentioned that schools, universities, city buildings, even the airport might make a good home for Flores de Libertad, and I couldn’t agree more! This monument deserves a permanent home in Philly. So, if you work for a place that might be a good fit and you want to chat with Michelle about the possibility, please reach out to her here!

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