Awardee: Samantha M Connors
Primary Artistic Medium: Crafts and Textiles
Through a series of figurative weavings and an accompanying publication, I will be discussing specific buildings in Philadelphia that have disenfranchised large groups of middle class and poor community members, while helping developers, corporations and politicians get wealthier.
There will be 7 weavings in total: Comcast Technology Center, multiple condo developments in Kensington, PHA Headquarters, and a school in Point Breeze that was sold out by the city and converted into luxury lofts. Each weaving will be roughly 2.5ft wide and 3-5ft tall, woven with yarn hand dyed with plants collected in Philadelphia.
Within the publication, the content will provide information about the history of these neighborhoods, tax breaks developers and corporations have access to, and public systems that are failing due to the city’s reliance on development while divesting from community growth. I’d like to use my writing to highlight areas in Philly that are going through rapid gentrification, without much news coverage. In Kensington, where I work and have my studio, there is mass development and an “arts corridor” planned. I believe it is our responsibility as artists who benefit from working and living in low income communities to stand up and fight against plans to push people out of their generational homes to make way for wealthier residents. I will also highlight work being done by local organizations and community members who are standing up for all of us.
I plan to have an exhibition of these works within a gallery space. I would also like to install wheatpastes of the weavings in the neighborhoods affected with a QR code where people can read the publication online and links to organizations and projects where they can offer resources. My goal is to create conversation about how the push towards mass development affects our health, education and safety as a community. How can we collectively and individually disrupt actions of gentrification? How can we create spaces that uphold radical values of care while also existing and surviving under capitalism?