Barnes West Announces Artists Selected for Third Annual Everyday Places Artist Partnerships
Four West Philadelphia–based artists to create participatory activations engaging local businesses & community members
Philadelphia, PA, September 14, 2023—The Barnes Foundation—through its collaborative initiative with community organizations in West Philadelphia, Barnes West—has announced four West Philadelphia–based social-impact artists who have been selected to participate in the third annual Everyday Places Artist Partnerships initiative: Elicia Epstein, Isaiah Reese, Meghan Tranauskas, and Pili X.
Barnes West is supported by a grant from the William Penn Foundation. Additional support is provided by PECO and Spark Therapeutics.
Barnes West conceived Everyday Places Artist Partnerships in 2021 to provide West Philadelphia residents with spaces to engage with multidisciplinary artistic projects that offer inspiration and promote hope and healing. This year’s cohort of artists will again partner with “everyday” locations in the neighborhood—including local businesses, public parks, and community organizations—to build interactive, participatory projects that engage with the site and residents. The projects begin rolling out this month and will continue through November. At a launch event on Friday, September 22, the community will be able to meet the artists and learn more about their projects. More details will be announced soon.
“We’re thrilled to present the third annual Everyday Places Artist Partnerships initiative with a roster of four remarkable artists,” says Val Gay, deputy director for audience engagement and chief experience officer at the Barnes. “This initiative was conceived to create space for the West Philly community to engage in art making and creative expression right in their own community. It builds on the Barnes’s historical connections to West Philadelphia, where, in the early 20th century, Dr. Barnes first introduced his method of art appreciation as a vehicle for critical thinking and civic engagement to his integrated factory workforce. We are excited to see the public’s engagement with the artists’ projects, which range from ceramics and sculpture to floral art and photography, all with the goal of connecting people and creating community through meaningful art experiences.”
The 2023 Everyday Places Artist Partnerships include:
Elicia Epstein at Neighborhood Bike Works
Throughout fall 2023, multidisciplinary artist Elicia Epstein will conduct community-centered workshops at Neighborhood Bike Works. These workshops combine cycling and design to encourage residents to celebrate what they love most about their respective communities. An avid cyclist, Epstein sees biking and bicycle repair as important forms of hope, healing, and community-building. Host business Neighborhood Bike Works is a community resource that empowers people to build relationships with their bikes by teaching them to repair and work with their own bikes, often for little or no cost.
Epstein says, “Participants will respond to the prompt, ‘What is your love letter or message to your neighborhood, West Philly, or Philly in general?’ by designing bike banners. People will be encouraged to be poetic, spontaneous, heartfelt, and personal.”
Isaiah Reese at the Silk Tent and Ultra Silk Gallery
Artist and florist Isaiah Reese leads flower arrangement and botanical workshops at the Silk Tent and Ultra Silk Gallery. This series of entry-level floral design classes will provide accessible opportunities for West Philadelphia residents to engage in a new art medium. Floral design is often considered a luxury that requires access to specialized materials and knowledge. Reese’s workshops aim to break down these barriers and create an inclusive space where individuals can explore and develop their artistic skills. He hopes to inspire individuals to explore their creativity and foster a deeper connection to the natural beauty that surrounds them.
Meghan Tranauskas at Dyke+ ArtHaus
Artist and ceramics educator Meghan Tranauskas will host community vessel-making and ceramics workshops at the Dyke+ ArtHaus. These workshops address forced displacement and gentrification and encourage community members to embrace full ownership over objects they create.
Pili X at Freedom Greens + Gardens
Photographer, community organizer, and music producer, Pili X leads a series of photo walks that focus on historical and contemporary documentation of West Philly neighborhoods. Pili X will also guide community discussions about land sovereignty, access, forced displacement, and the environment, in partnership with Get Fresh Daily’s Freedom Greens + Gardens.
Further details about projects and locations are available online.
The artists were selected by the Barnes West leadership team and participating neighborhood sites. Each artist will receive a stipend and an Art for All Community Pass, which provides one year of unlimited admission to the Barnes for up to four people.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Elicia Epstein (they/she) is a multidisciplinary artist and community organizer who works in sculpture, installation, photo, video, performance, publication, and cross-media collaboration. Epstein’s practice is one of “celebrating intuitive and emotional knowledge and using mischief to question and dismantle institutions of power and oppression.” Most recently, they celebrated the publication of the Liberation Tarot deck, a multiyear, 30+ artist collaboration that they curated and organized. The deck reimagines the traditional tarot arcana to represent and address the complicated and urgent political landscape of today. It is forthcoming from PM Press and will be in bookshops by fall 2023. Epstein holds an MFA in sculpture from the Tyler School of Art and Architecture and a BA in studio art from Pomona College.
Isaiah Reese (he/him) is an artist and florist based in Philadelphia, originally from Newton, New Jersey. Reese earned a BFA in biomedical art and visualization from Rowan University, and his artistic practice encompasses illustration, painting, and floristry. His illustrations and paintings intricately capture the beauty of the world, employing vibrant colors and organic forms to evoke a sense of wonder. Inspired by nature and the human experience, his artwork reflects a deep appreciation for the delicate details that surround us.
Meghan Tranauskas (they/them) is an artist and ceramics educator from Frankford, Philadelphia. Tranauskas’s ceramic work is “heavily invested in surface decoration as a vehicle for connection through familiar patterns.” They hold a BFA in ceramics and BA in art history from the Pennsylvania State University. Tranauskas enjoys creating happy pots in a community environment at the Clay Studio and teaching ceramics classes in Philadelphia and New Jersey.
Pili X (he/him) is a photographer, community organizer, and music producer with his “heart rooted in producing actual change for the Black families of tomorrow.” He is cofounder and park director of the Philadelphia Peace Park, an organization that cleans up vacant lots to show the positive opportunities available in the land. Over the course of the last five years, Pili X has created numerous exhibitions featuring his photography, which tells the story of the people of Philadelphia while simultaneously calling attention to the myriad issues plaguing the city and the world.
ABOUT BARNES WEST
Serving West Philadelphia with artistic programming and opportunities since 2018, Barnes West—a collaboration between the Barnes Foundation and neighborhood community organizations—is designed to enrich lives and communities through shared art experiences and access. Building upon the Barnes’s community engagement work and HopePHL’s (formerly, People’s Emergency Center) LoLa 38 creative placemaking initiative, Barnes West presents multifaceted arts programming to connect West Philadelphia residents with art in their own neighborhoods. This collaboration brings West Philadelphia residents, business owners, and artists together in celebrating culture, creativity, and community voice—highlighting lifelong appreciation of, and participation in, the arts and cultural life of our city.
Lead support for Barnes West is provided by the William Penn Foundation. Additional support is provided by PECO and Spark Therapeutics. The Barnes’s community engagement programs are made possible through the Comcast Center for Community Engagement and with endowment support from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF).
ABOUT THE BARNES FOUNDATION
The Barnes Foundation is a nonprofit cultural and educational institution that shares its unparalleled art collection with the public, organizes special exhibitions, and presents programming that fosters new ways of thinking about human creativity. The Barnes collection is displayed in ensembles that integrate art and objects from across cultures and time periods, overturning traditional hierarchies and revealing universal elements of human expression. Home to one of the world’s finest collections of impressionist, post-impressionist, and modern paintings—including the largest groups of paintings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Paul Cézanne in existence—the Barnes brings together renowned canvases by Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani, and Vincent van Gogh, alongside African, Asian, ancient, medieval, and Native American art as well as metalwork, furniture, and decorative art.
The Barnes Foundation was established by Dr. Albert C. Barnes in 1922 to “promote the advancement of education and the appreciation of the fine arts and horticulture.” A visionary collector and pioneering educator, Dr. Barnes was also a fierce advocate for the civil rights of African Americans, women, and the economically marginalized. Committed to racial equality and social justice, he established a scholarship program to support young Black artists, writers, and musicians to further their education. Dr. Barnes became actively involved in the Harlem Renaissance, during which he collaborated with philosopher Alain Locke and Charles S. Johnson, the scholar and activist, to promote awareness of the artistic value of African art.
Since moving to Philadelphia in 2012, the Barnes Foundation has expanded its commitment to diversity, inclusion, and social justice, teaching visual literacy in groundbreaking ways; investing in original scholarship relating to its collection; and enhancing accessibility throughout every facet of its programs.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Deirdre Maher, Director of Communications, The Barnes Foundation
Online press office: barnesfoundation.org/press