Modern-Day Revolution Celebrated In Philadelphia Street Art
Seeking to appeal to visitors more familiar with the words of "Game of Thrones" heroine Daenarys Targaryen than the writings of James Wilson, Philadelphia museums and historic sites are thinking differently, using creative art exhibitions and adding online components to their offerings.
"Revolutionary: A Pop-Up Street Art Exhibition," on display until July 4, features 13 artists who created 13 works that challenge the status quo. On display throughout downtown, the exhibition includes paintings, weavings, photographs — and a knit and crochet installation featuring Targayen quotes like "I will answer injustice with justice."
Meanwhile, "American Treasures" at the National Constitution Center showcases drafts of the U.S. Constitution written by lesser-known founding father James Wilson. After seeing an online version of the Constitution garner more than 10 million hits in 18 months, museum leaders decided to also feature the rare drafts online, where visitors will learn how one draft called for the U.S. president to be addressed as "His Excellency."
"Letting them see the words themselves has been a way to engage young people," said the organization's president and CEO Jeffrey Rosen. "It's a way to bring history and ideas alive."
Colonial history is enjoying a resurgence thanks to the success of Broadway's "Hamilton." A group of fourth graders last week ran through the newly unveiled Museum of the American Revolution singing the show's songs and looking for historic highlights they'd learned through music.
The "Revolutionary" exhibition — funded by Visit Philadelphia, the city's tourism arm — was curated by Conrad Benner, founder and editor of streetsdept.com, a website that promotes urban art and exploration.
Benner said he looked for artists whose work challenged the status quo.
"All revolutions start with people looking at the world around them and asking, 'What can we do better for ourselves and our neighbors?'" Benner said. "It's very powerful to have those ideas in public spaces."
The artists in the Revolutionary exhibition approached the subject in different ways.
El Salvador-born artist Carlos Lopez Rosa created a portrait of a South American freedom fighter few people would recognize, but the image is powerful because of its canvas: It is painted on a machete, which represents conflict, he said.
Well-known yarn-bomber Ishknits was inspired to make a crochet and knit work bearing quotes from "Game of Thrones" character Daenerys Targaryen, including, "I will answer injustice with justice."
Yasmine Mustafa, whose family came to the U.S. from Kuwait during the Persian Gulf War, was one of the creative minds behind "Birth Lottery," a poster that depicts stork flying over houses.
The image is meant to showcase the randomness of where one's life begins, Mustafa said. "We don't choose our country, our race, our economic class but these are the things that shape our lives."