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20 Change-making Philly Women Honored this Month with Temporary Street Art Installations Around Philly

March 2, 2020

So excited to announce today that for Women’s History Month 2020, Streets Dept has teamed up with friend and fellow curator, Ginger Rudolph (Editor of HAHA Magazine), and 10 Philly artists to create a street art campaign celebrating 20 change-making Philly women! We’re calling it the #SisterlyLove Project, and it’s been made possible by our sponsor Live Nation Philadelphia and with support by VISIT PHILADELPHIA.

Some of y’all may remember an op-ed I wrote back in 2017 about the incredible lack of representation of women in Philly’s monuments (you can read it here, if you missed it). I have been excited to work with Ginger and these incredible Philly artists on this project because I believe deeply in the power of art in the public space, as I’ve expanded on more in this blog’s purpose statement. And the women being honored by this project all well-deserve a space of recognition in our public space. Honestly, it’d be really incredible if all of the women being celebrated by this project each ended up receiving their own permanent monuments in Philly some day. Perhaps this project can serve as a sort of catalyst for that!

The women being honored by this project include a mix of living and historic figures. Women from a wide array of professions and passions including poets, writers, singers, actors, producers, doctors, chefs, business owners, designers, ballet dancers, photographers, journalists, guitarists, Grammy winners, Emmy winners, Olympic Gold Medal winners, Civil Rights leaders, LGBTQ activists, and immigration and human rights activists. All women who in one way or another were change makers.

The 10 Philly artists who built this project are Hope Hummingbird, Manuela Guillén, Marian Bailey, Marisa Velázquez-Rivas, Monica O, Nicole Nikolich, Nilé Livingston, Old Broads, Symone Salib, and Taped Off TV! The portraits they created feature works of art made in wheatpaste, yarnbomb, porcelain, and even wood burning. All but two of the artworks were all installed over the last few days at locations around the city with the support of some amazing location partners! The final two will be installed this week, so stay tuned!

See the full list of artworks and locations below! Installations will remain up through the end of March, or (because this is a street art project) when the elements decide otherwise. You can also find a handy map of the project over at Visit Philly here!


Gloria Casarez by Hope Hummingbird at One Shot Cafe in Northern Liberties

Gloria Casarez (1971–2014): An activist for civil rights and marginalized communities, Gloria Casarez was the City of Philadelphia’s first Director of LGBT Affairs, the executive director of Galalei and a founder of the Philadelphia Dyke March.

Mae Reeves by Hope Hummingbird at Paradigm Gallery + Studio on Fabric Row

Mae Reeves (1912–2016): At age 28, milliner Mae Reeves broke racial barriers by opening her shop at 1630 South Street. Reeves made hats until age 85. Her work is now in the permanent collection of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC.

Nijmie Dzurinko by Manuela Guillén at 12th and Polett Walk at Temple University

Nijmie Dzurinko (b. 1976): Black and indigenous agitator, strategist and healer Nijmie Dzurinko organizes poor and dispossessed people to put an end to poverty. Dzurinko is the former executive director of the Philadelphia Student Union and co-founder of Put People First! PA.

Dr. Anandibai Joshi by Manuela Guillén at 10th & Buttonwood Streets in Spring Arts

Dr. Anandibai Joshi (1865–1887): Anandibai Joshi graduated from the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1886 to become India’s first female physician. In her home country, Joshi championed Hindu women as physicians, understanding they would better serve Hindu women patients.

Judith Jamison by Marian Bailey at Frankford Avenue and Belgrade Street in Fishtown

Judith Jamison (b.1943): Modern dancer and choreographer Judith Jamison was the first artistic director to succeed Alvin Ailey at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Trained in ballet, she studied at Fisk University (now, University of the Arts) before joining Ailey’s company.

Lily Yeh by Marian Bailey at Frankford Avenue and Belgrade Street in Fishtown

Lily Yeh (b.1941): Taiwanese-born artist Lily Yeh founded The Village of Arts and Humanities at 10th Street and Germantown Avenue in 1968. Serving 10,000 North Philly youth annually, The Village has become a national model of creative place-making and community building.

Barbara Gittings by Marisa Velázquez-Rivas at Martha in Kensington

Barbara Gittings (1932–2007): LGBTQ rights activist and The Ladder magazine editor Barbara Gittings co-founded The Annual Reminders, the nation’s earliest yearly demonstration for gay rights. The seminal protests took place July 4, 1965-1969, in front of Independence Hall.

Nizah Morris by Marisa Velázquez-Rivas at Philly AIDS Thrift @ Giovanni’s Room in The Gayborhood

Nizah Morris (1955–2002): Nizah Morris was a regular performer in the Thursday night Drag Show at Bob & Barbara’s Lounge, 1509 South Street. Her death brought awareness to anti-transgender violence. Today, the Morris Home for Trans and Gender-Variant People bears her name.

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper by Monica O at Elfreth’s Alley in Old City

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (1825–1911): The mother of African American journalism grew up in Philadelphia’s Seventh Ward. Frances Ellen Watkins Harper was an irrepressible thinker, women’s rights activist, published author at age 20 and active agent on the Underground Railroad.

Lucretia Mott by Monica O behind Tattooed Mom off South Street

Lucretia Mott (1793–1880): Icon of the women’s movement, Lucretia Mott was a Quaker minister, outspoken abolitionist and undaunted social reformer who spent her life speaking truth to power. Mott organized at the Race Street Meetinghouse and is buried at Fair Hill Burial Ground.

Tara Lipinski by Nicole Nikolich at Starr Garden Playground in Bella Vista

Tara Lipinski (b.1982): Philly’s own Tara Lipinski is a former competitive figure skater and current sports commentator. In 1997, Lipinski became the youngest winner of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. In 1998, she became the youngest figure skater to win Olympic gold.

Tina Fey by Nicole Nikolich at Writer’s Block Rehab in The Gayborhood

Tina Fey (b.1970): Upper Darby’s Elizabeth Stamatina “Tina” Fey is a writer, actor, author, producer and playwright. Best known for her work on Saturday Night Live, Mean Girls, 30 Rock and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Around here, she’s admired for her amazing accent.

Patti LaBelle by Nilé Livingston at 1100 Ludlow Street in East Market

Patti LaBelle (b. 1944): Patti LaBelle, aka the Godmother of Soul, is a proud Southwest Philly native. LaBelle’s 50-plus-year career began in the 1960s as the frontwoman for the Bluebelles. Aunt Patti has since sold more than 50 million records — and almost as many pies.

Jane Golden by Nilé Livingston at 1100 Ludlow Street in East Market

Jane Golden (b.1953): Jane Golden founded Mural Arts Philadelphia in 1984 and grew the small city agency into the nation’s largest public art program and a global model for transforming public space and community through art. Thanks to her, Philly has more than 4,000 murals.

Graceanna Lewis by Old Broads at 1025 Hamilton Street in Spring Arts

Graceanna Lewis (1821–1912): Naturalist, illustrator and supporter of civil rights and women’s suffrage, Graceanna Lewis used her Chester County home as a stop along the Underground Railroad. After the Civil War, Lewis became a pioneer in botany and ornithology.

Marian Anderson by Symone Salib at The Met in North Philadelphia
Marian Anderson (1897–1993): In 1939, international singing sensation Marian Anderson was barred from performing to an audience of 4,000 in Washington, DC’s Constitution Hall. Instead, the contralto sang for a crowd of 75,000 on the National Mall. Her home at 762 Martin Street is a museum.

Cristina Martínez by Symone Salib at PIZZA Shackamaxon in Fishtown

Cristina Martínez (b. 1970): Born in Toluca, Mexico, Cristina Martínez is an acclaimed chef and activist for rights for undocumented American workers. Martinez and her husband Benjamin Miller own South Philly Barbacoa and Casa Mexico, both in the South 9th Street Italian Market.

Santigold by Symone Salib at The Fillmore in Fishtown

Santigold (b. 1976): Singer, songwriter and producer Santigold is known for her innovative approaches to electronic, hip-hop, new wave, reggae fusion and alternative dance music. A graduate of Germantown Friends School, she’s a former member of the Philly punk band, Stiffed.

Tara Lessard by Taped Off TV at the William Way LGBT Center in The Gayborhood

Tara Lessard (1972–2019): Cancer activist and photographer Tara Lessard shot thousands of images of significant regional LGBTQ events — at Pride festivals in New Hope, Philadelphia’s Independence Day parade and the Philly Dyke March — thereby documenting the community’s history.

P.s. A big special thanks to Ann Northrup and Mural Arts Philadelphia for allowing us to temporarily honor Tara on their mural, Pride and Progress!

Gail Ann Dorsey by Taped Off TV at 10th & Spring Garden Streets in Spring Arts

Gail Ann Dorsey (b.1962): West Philly-born musician, vocalist and songwriter Gail Ann Dorsey began playing guitar at age nine. About 30 years later, the bassist joined David Bowie’s band. Today, Dorsey continues to innovate, perform and break barriers.

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