Iraqi painter Mayada Alhumssi uses brilliant colors and images to interpret Iraqi folk songs. Her paintings celebrate and revive her cultural traditions and preserve these songs for the next generation. This exhibition featured a collection of Mayada’s most recent paintings, coupled with the folk song lyrics that inspired her work.
This exhibit chronicled about a year in the life of the Tibetan community of Philadelphia. It offers a glimpse of their commitment to that community and to their culture: coming together annually to publicly call for Tibet’s autonomy and deliverance from oppression; celebrating the Dalai Lama’s birthday and Tibetan New Year through ritual and games; honoring ancestral traditions and the struggles of those in Tibet through the monthly practice of Lhakar and the weekly teaching and learning of Tibetan language, songs and dances at Tibetan Sunday School. It shares, too, how Tibetans, on a daily basis, pay respect to the Buddha and the Dalai Lama in the privacy of their homes.
Honoring Ancestors paid respect to generations of African American dancers and drummers who contributed to a revolution in cultural expression and consciousness that paved the way for today’s vital and flourishing community of drummers and dancers of African-rooted rhythm and movement.
In December 2009, dozens of Asian immigrant students boycotted their high school and launched a civil rights campaign around a district’s responsibility to provide a safe educational climate. Asian Americans United and partners curated an exhibit with PFP featuring voices from a campaign that sought educational justice in a school struggling with violence and racial discord. Featuring photographs by Harvey Finkle and Kathy Shimizu.
Joan May Cordova and Kathy Shimizu share photographs and block prints documenting the meanings of Chinatown’s Mid-Autumn Festival, a vital celebration of culture and community. Initiated and produced by Asian Americans United (AAU) for 15 years, Mid-Autumn Festival has been a resource for sustaining this last remaining community of color in Philadelphia’s center city, and for pushing back against predatory development schemes. Organized as part of a series of events celebrating AAU’s 25th Anniversary.
Making and sharing traditional needlework, stitching patterns belonging to villages that no longer exist, local Palestinian women artfully sustain heritage and community through the beauty that is tatreez. Nehad Khader curated this exhibition of the work of 7 local artists. To read exhibition texts and see a sample of images, keep reading.
Politically active his whole life, Eric Joselyn is known among an extended community of activists as an invaluable resource. Rarely credited publicly, he is a prolific working artist who has been turning peoples’ demands and dreams into eye-catching (and conscience-catching) physical and visual expressions for decades. Without recognizing it, you may well have seen his work displayed street-side: at local demonstrations for immigrants’ rights, at antiwar protests, at street theater against racism. In this exhibition, you can become better acquainted with the man behind the art.
Hmong people resettled in Philadelphia in the late 1970s: some 3,000+ refugees began to create a vital and vibrant community. Now only 140-some Hmong people remain. Over the past 28 years here, Pang Xiong Sirirathasuk Sikoun, who co-curated this exhibition, has used traditional needlework to support and sustain Hmong community life. The work of 40 women are featured in this show, a brief reflection of local Hmong history and arts.
Bill Crawford began a habit of placing significant memorabilia—posters, handbills, clippings, announcements from campaigns and struggles—on the walls of the family dining room in the Parkside neighborhood of West Philadelphia. Eventually, the dining room was covered with more than 500 items: four walls collaged with 40 years of social change memorabilia. The walls of their dining room chronicle four decades of their political life, as well as four decades of Philadelphia movement history. Once PFP had its own home, the Crawford’s dining room was moved here to be permanently re-installed, brought back home to West Philadelphia.
This exhibition considers how struggles for justice, equity and freedom depend on traditions passed on and developed within communities and out of collective experience. The folk arts of social change are vehicles for challenging oppression, transmitting unofficial history, and for passing on and preserving knowledge that spans generations. This project is about how we choose to act, about how we learn and transmit ethics and values, and about how community-based arts help make this learning and teaching possible.