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March 31st, 2011
"Love Invaders" To Take Over Love Park

Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Delphi After School Art Club students display their creations in Fairmount Park Welcome Center.

“I hope that our project will invade a sense of creativity and action into the positive springtime energy that is already beginning to overtake the city,” says artist Benjamin Volta, who conceived the community service project Love Invaders with more than 200 5th through 8th graders from Philadelphia public and charter schools. Demonstrating how art can alter an environment and initiate positive change in the Philadelphia community, Love Invaders refers to the student art work created by the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Delphi After School Art Club which will be on view, covering the exterior of the Fairmount Park Welcome Center (16th Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard), April 14 – July 31, 2011.

From April 6-8, from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Volta will install the students’ work and on April 14, from 3:00-4:30 p.m. (Rain date: April 15) the Delphi After School Art Club will host an opening reception for students, their families, teachers, and special guests at the Welcome Center. During the reception, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown will present a citation from the city entitled “City Council of Philadelphia Citation Honoring and Recognizing the Delphi After School Art Club.” Love Invaders was produced in partnership with Philadelphia Parks and Recreation. The Delphi After School Art Club is generously supported by Reliance Standard Life Insurance Company and The Delphi Project Foundation.

“The Art Club gives students from Philadelphia public and charter schools the opportunity to explore their creativity, learn about art from the world's diverse cultures, master hand and eye skills, and mature in their ever evolving social and communication skills,” says Marla K. Shoemaker, the Museum’s Kathleen C. Sherrerd Senior Curator of Education. “In After School Art Club, students are mentored by some of the city's best teaching artists, get behind-the-scenes experiences with Museum departments such as conservation, and become comfortable and engaged with all that the Museum has to offer.”

For 19 weeks every year, up to 240 students between the 5th and 8th grades participate in the Delphi After School Art Club at the Museum. Each week, students tour galleries and work with a professional artist to create art inspired by the collections and special exhibitions. Artists teach them art history and the process of making art. Students in the program create work for an exhibition in the Museum’s education space and attend a cultural performance as well as conservation science presentations. Students in this year’s program are from the public and charter schools General John F. Reynolds School, General Louis Wagner School, Juniata Park Academy, Martha Washington School, Potter Thomas School, Russell Byers Charter School, and Thomas K. Finletter School.

A music teacher at Potter Thomas School, Rachel Hoke notes that one of the most common phrases she hears from her students who participate in the Delphi After School Art Club is “I've never seen anything like that before.” Hoke believes that the program exposes students to art and culture that they never knew existed. “It's been amazing to see the interest and curiosity sparked by these experiences inside the Museum,” she says.

“I see the creativity that the students so often stifle in school around their friends,” comments Zina Porter-Mack, a teacher at General Louis Wagner School. “The program provides them a creative outlet to express themselves artistically which they don’t always have a chance to do in school.”

Terrell Brown, a student at Thomas K. Finletter School, says, “It was fun to use a wide range of materials and have options in constructing it. In life I can have many ways to approach a problem and to solve it.”

“I am happy to see my art work displayed in the museum. I want to see if other people will react to it or like it,” says Tyreek Galloway another Finletter student. “In the museum you're allowed to express your emotions in your art. In the classroom, you usually work by yourself without the input of others.”

Tammy Salvadore, Executive Director, Delphi Project Foundation, notes “In these challenging economic times, as the School District is forced to reduce exposure to the arts, Delphi After School Art Club sponsor Reliance Standard Life remains steadfast in its commitment to bringing the arts to students who may not otherwise have the opportunity. Above all, the Delphi After School Art Club provides students with a safe, stimulating and supervised place to gather after school.”

Every year, since the program’s inception in 1998, it has culminated in a community service project. Of the community service projects, Salvadore comments, “Collaborative public works of art are not only beautiful to look at but also create a sense vibrancy and pride in one's community. The community service project teaches the students to work as a team, fosters creativity and more importantly, showcases the positive accomplishments of Philadelphia's public school students.”

Last year, students designed collaborative prints that appeared on twelve Center City bus shelter posters, created in partnership with Art in Transit and CBS Outdoor. Other past community service projects have included murals throughout Philadelphia, created in partnership with the Mural Art Program.

The Delphi After School Art Club’s 2011 community service project Love Invaders is based on the idea of cross-cultural tolerance, “Love Difference,” which was reflected in the work of contemporary artist Michelangelo Pistoletto in two recent exhibitions at the Museum. Love Invaders was conceived by Volta in collaboration with artists Roslyn Don, Cecilia Dougherty, Doris Nogueira-Rogers, Diane Pieri, Marta Sanchez, and Mariel Waloff.

With the teaching artists, each student created a unique emblem inspired by something in the Museum’s collection. Each emblem was scanned and printed on colored vinyl and will be installed in the Fairmount Park Welcome Center, wrapping around the building’s exterior windows. The emblems will transform the appearance of the building and all of the students’ work will be highly visible to the public from all sides.

“I love working on projects that will allow me to engage the world and connect to others,” Volta explains. “Working with 200-plus artists allows all of us to see an idea explored in more than 200 different ways. While most of us only worked in groups of 20, I love the fact that through a shared creative experience we will all come together at Love Park to celebrate.”

Collaborating teaching artist Cecilia Dougherty comments, “I think that the art [in Love Park] will attract attention to the students’ desire to do something to better the city and empower others to do what they can to make a difference.”

A student at General Louis Wagner School, Alisha Riley says, “I feel excited knowing that my artwork is going to be displayed in Love Park, and I can share it with my family.”

Notes Shaiderah Campbell, a schoolmate of Riley’s “A lot of people don't get opportunities like this.”

The Fairmount Park Welcome Center is open Monday–Saturday, 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m., and Sunday, 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. More information is available at www.fairmountpark.org/jfkplaza.asp.

More information about Love Invaders can be found at www.philamuseum.org/education/exhibitions.html.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is among the largest museums in the United States, with a collection of more than 227,000 works of art and more than 200 galleries presenting painting, sculpture, works on paper, photography, decorative arts, textiles, and architectural settings from Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the United States. Its facilities include its landmark Main Building on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the Perelman Building, located nearby on Pennsylvania Avenue, the Rodin Museum on the 2200 block of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, and two 18th-century houses in Fairmount Park, Mount Pleasant and Cedar Grove. The Museum offers a wide variety of activities for public audiences, including special exhibitions, programs for children and families, lectures, concerts and films.

For additional information, contact the Communications Department of the Philadelphia Museum of Art phone at 215-684-7860, by fax at 215-235-0050, or by e-mail at pressroom@philamuseum.org. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway at 26th Street. For general information, call (215) 763-8100.

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