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Event Details

Behind Closed Doors: Hidden Stories and Truths with Ife Nii Owoo

Saturday, January 9, 2016 from 10:00am to 1:00pm
at La Salle University Art Museum, Olney Hall

Listen to a podcast from GTown Radio with Ife Nii Owoo, Abigail Perkiss, Li Sumpter and Trapeta Mayson

Participants will engage in collage, drawing and art-making techniques to create a personal tunnel book. Tunnel books date back to the 18th century when they were called “peep shows”. Like moveable or pop-up books, tunnel books present ideas and images in a 3-dimensional format allowing viewers to literally read “between” the lines and look “through” stories. Explore how historical narratives tend to highlight the Eurocentric perspective and the lives of the rich and famous while overlooking the lives of those in servitude who lived and worked behind closed doors in Germantown’s most famous mansions and institutions. Tell your own story (past or present) through art, photos and text revealing what has been overlooked or untold. Come to La Salle University Art Museum in Historic Germantown with your photographs, artifacts and experiences to create a special tunnel book memoir. No previous art experience required. For more info contact elephants@freedomsbackyard.com or 215.844.1683.

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

Ife Nii Owoo is a visual collage artist and graphic designer who lives in Germantown. She has received several public art commissions including The President's House Commemorative Memorial Site, Independence National Historical Park and the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Community Portraits in 2014. She is a recipient of a Leeway Foundation Change Award and the author of the children’s book A is for Africa. In her paintings, collages, and mixed- media works, Nii Owoo draws upon her deep knowledge of African visual traditions and freely mixes her personal experience with communal stories and symbolism. Ife collaborates with historian Abigail Perkiss.

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 memory.

Elephants on the Avenue has been supported by The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage.


Art + History + Engagement: Workshop Series
Join Historic Germantown on a 2-year exploration of RACE, CLASS & COMMUNITY with noted artists and historians in freedom's backyard.

Historic Germantown's ELEPHANTS ON THE AVENUE will offer several free special events and artist-led workshops exploring themes of race and class in Germantown. All public engagement activities and original works by artists will be informed by the research of leading historians in the field and the narratives of HG member sites. Community members are invited to join the dialogue and share past and present-day stories that continue to shape the German Township and Philadelphia's diverse history and culture.

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