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Event Details

Elephants on the Avenue: Race, Class and Community in Historic Germantown

November 2015 ~ May 2017
at Historic Germantown, 5501 Germantown Ave

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

Watch Elephants Marched on the Avenue: Community and Artist Feedback for Elephants on the Avenue



DECONSTRUCTING HISTORY/RE-CONSTRUCTING MEMORY: Explosion Notebooks & Collage Art with Artist Ife Nii Owoo

CODED LANGUAGE: Bookmaking with Artist Diane Pieri

THE CRACKED BOWL: Vessels of Freedom Stories with Artist Barbara Bullock

PRUNING THE ELEPHANT: Changing Seasons and the Art of Reflection with Artist Ben Volta

GERMANTOWN GOSPEL: Poetry, Story Circle & Paper Fan Making with Yolanda Wisher

HAIKU TRAIL TO FREEDOM with Poet Sonia Sanchez

FIRST FAMILIES: Geocaching and Creative Reflection with Yolanda Wisher

BEHIND CLOSED DOORS: Hidden Stories and Truths with Ife Nii Owoo


Click here to go the Elephants on the Avenue YouTube playlist


Click here to view the Elephants on the Avenue Flickr albums

Historic Germantown's ELEPHANTS ON THE AVENUE offered free special events and artist-led workshops exploring themes of race and class in Germantown. All public engagement activities and original works by artists were informed by the research of leading historians in the field and the narratives of HG member sites. Community members were 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. This culminating video showcases the thoughts and input of just a few of the hundreds of workshop and special activities attendees. We are grateful to these courageous and thoughtful individuals who gave voice and action (through arts) to the Elephants project.

This major grant by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage supported the Elephants project and involved highly acclaimed artists and scholars who reflect the diversity within our community, and who have demonstrated a commitment to artistic or scholarly exploration within a historical or community context. Each has amassed a body of work that directly or indirectly touches on issues of race and class as well as other complexities in an urban setting. The project team was selected because of their ability to engage disparate groups and apply their art or scholarship to evoke wider dialog through participatory art making in and about the present. The artists and scholars involved have demonstrated openness and courage in their work; two qualities that are important for a project of this nature. HG’s historic sites were central to this project and the project team expressed interest in and acknowledgement of their significance as well as enthusiasm for the wealth of creative opportunity they present. All team members have demonstrated their ability to engage people both locally and beyond the Philadelphia region. The historians brought their own scholarship and expertise with the history of race relations in America to bear on the visual and textual responses. The historian’s role helped to inform the artist and provided a context in which to understand and begin to address race and class in Germantown.

The historians and artists involved in Elephants on the Avenue include:

Dr. Abigail Perkiss, Historian
Dr. Molefi Asante, Historian
Dr. Thomas Sugrue, Historian
Barbara J. Bullock, Visual Artist
Ife Nii Owoo, Visual Artist
Diane Pieri, Visual Artist
Sonia Sanchez, Poet and Professor
Yolanda Wisher, Poet and Educator
Benjamin Volta, Visual Artist, Muralist
Patricia Scott Hobbs: Facilitator
Li Sumpter: Project Manager
Trapeta Mayson: Executive Director

In addition to the artists and historians listed above, Historic Germantown engaged local partners and other community members throughout the project. The final exhibition and performance was curated by Renny Molenaar of iMPeRFeCT Gallery. Video production was done by PWPvideo, a Germantown-based production firm.

About The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage:
The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage is a multidisciplinary grantmaker and hub for knowledge sharing, funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, and dedicated to fostering a vibrant cultural community in Greater Philadelphia. The Center fulfills this mission by investing in ambitious, imaginative arts and heritage projects that showcase the region’s cultural vitality and enhance public life, and by engaging in an exchange of ideas concerning artistic and interpretive practice with a broad network of cultural leaders. For more information,


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