Journeys South — a project of the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program — was a temporary public art project that drew inspiration from both oral and archival historical sources to trace the history of South Philadelphia as reflected in the legacies of immigration.
Journeys South moved public art "off the wall" to examine the richly layered and evolving immigrant histories of South Philadelphia through four interactive, community-based artworks that celebrated the stories of South Philadelphia.
The seven artists creating each part of Journeys South, five of whom were born and raised and/or currently reside in South Philadelphia, worked with community members, historians, and folklorists to gain a deeper understanding of the culture and history of South Philadelphia's legendary neighborhoods.
These four temporary works of public art were originally on exhibition from April 27—June 11, 2011 at various locations along South 9th Street and East Passyunk Avenue, bordered by Christian Street to the north and Moore Street to the south.
With "Different Paths, One Market", artists Michelle Angela Ortiz and Tony Rocco transformed the vinyl awnings that shelter the vendors of the Ninth Street Italian Market into an outdoor gallery of their stories of family, labor, assimilation, struggle and identity.
In "Neighbor Ballads", poet Frank Sherlock and printmaker Erik Ruin told the stories of seven South Philadelphians through poetry and portraits. Originally distributed on street corners in newspaper honor boxes, their work illuminated the shared experiences of the ongoing history of a legendary part of the city.
Dancer and choreographer Amanda Miller and video artist Tony Rothlein, working together as Miro, incorporated oral history, video and movement into "Start Here", a project that drew on first-person stories of individual or familial journeys to South Philadelphia. At the heart of their exploration was the question: "Where do the paths of immigration intersect?"
With "7th Street Memory Box", photographer RA Friedman devised a method to display his work in a public and interactive way that referenced the past by borrowing old technology. Creating a zoetrope — an early animation device — Friedman set in motion the portraits of South Philadelphia elders.
For further reading, "Journeys South: Planning Project Interviews"contains additional stories that helped inspire the project.
This project has been funded by The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage through the Heritage Philadelphia Program.