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Event Details

Art+History+Engagement Workshop Series: Coded Language: Bookmaking with Artist Diane Pieri

Saturday, November 12, 2016 from 10am to 1pm
at Stenton, 4601 N. 18th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19140

Secret messages are best hidden in plain sight

Coded Language: Bookmaking with Artist Diane Pieri examines the history of coded language used among travelers of the Underground Railroad as well as the white allies of Historic Germantown who harbored them.

From work songs to bed quilts of the enslaved, participants will explore coded language found in objects of daily use and cultural tradition. Participants will also discuss personal experiences with inventing and/or using coded language for the safe keeping of valuable knowledge and their own family history.

Attendees will be guided to connect personal memories and coded language to issues of race relations—past and present. All of these memories and experiences will be recorded on a 24”x36” piece of paper with an excerpt from the 1688 Germantown Quaker Petition Against Slavery printed on it. This highly decorated and manipulated document will then be folded into a multi-page book of each participant’s own design to be taken home as a reminder of histories forgotten and truths that remain unseen.

Coded Language will be hosted at Stenton.

Diane Pieri’s collaborating historian is Dr. Abigail Perkiss.


DIANE PIERI’s work deals with meaning and beauty in everyday life. She has had 30 solo exhibitions and been included in 200 national and international group exhibitions since 1969. She has been the recipient of two Pollock-Krasner Grants (1999/1992), two Independence Foundation Fellowships in the Arts (2001/2011), and a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Grant (1992). Since 2001 Pieri has completed 10 murals working with Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program and 7 murals in an elementary school in College Station, Texas since 2008. In 2005 Pieri founded the Cooke Museum of Art, modeled after thePhiladelphia Museum of Art, at the Jay Cooke Elementary School in North Philadelphia. Pieri has been a Teaching Artist at the Philadelphia Museum of Art for 18 years.

ABIGAIL PERKISS, Assistant Professor of History at Kean University, is broadly trained in U.S. History, twentieth-century urban culture, African American history, oral history, and legal history. Her research centers on the history of race, ethnicity, and urban identity in post-WWII American cities, and has been guided by questions of identity creation, community cohesion, and historical assets.

Historic Germantown is a partnership of 16 extraordinary historic houses, destinations, and museums in Northwest Philadelphia that have joined together to protect, preserve, and share some of Philadelphia's prized historical assets. Workshop is FREE but participants must register at

#HGElephants is the official hashtag for the Elephants on the Avenue - Race, Class and Community in Historic Germantown project.

Elephants on the Avenue has been supported Historic Germantown @HistoricGtown @Historic_Germantown by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

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