As a way to celebrate African-American art and literature, Art Sanctuary held a celebratory event last Wednesday night recognizing the one-year anniversary of the Albert M. Greenfield African American Murals exhibit, along with a book reading and signing with award winning novelist Bernice McFadden.
Art Sanctuary teamed up with City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, an art program aimed to create art that transforms public spaces and lives, to celebrate the exhibit by showcasing images and information on the collection. The Mural Arts Program partnered with the African American Museum in Philadelphia to launch the Albert M. Greenfield African American Iconic Images Collection, highlighting 47 murals that uniquely capture the African-American experience in Philadelphia, February of last year.
The group gathered in a lecture style seating as McFadden sat in the front discussing her books, her journey as a writer and memorable moments in her life. McFadden read passages from her new book “Gathering of Waters,” a tale narrated by the town “Money,” which is personified in the story. The group was engaged as McFadden shared the opening chapter.
“I chose that piece because the actual narrator of the story is the town,” McFadden said. “The town explains that it is a spirit, it is a number of different things — it’s never been human.”
McFadden met Lorene Cary, founder of Art Sanctuary, at a Harlem book fair and stayed connected with her. McFadden then taught a two-hour writing class at Art Sanctuary this past October and has enjoyed coming back ever since.
“There’s some sort of magic swirling there,” McFadden said. “I think it’s important to have those types of venues in our communities.”
As the night continued McFadden took questions from the audience about her writing, travel experiences and her books. Guests then lined up to purchase her books and to get them signed.
McFadden connected one-on-one with individuals in the group. One lady took hold of her arm as she shared her appreciation for her stories and asked McFadden about her family and what her daughter was aspiring to be. The two began a conversation about family and their personal life experiences.
Of those present, Patricia Wilkerson, felt being there that night was “meant to be.” In the past, Black History Month has sometimes put her in a somber mood, but to her surprise this event lifted her spirits.
“Coming tonight has touched me, I’m dying to buy the book,” Wilkerson. “I’m excited about getting her book so I can stop being the ‘angry Black woman.’”
The evening came to a close as McFadden held personal conversations and signed books. McFadden has traveled to various cities for book signings but found Art Sanctuary to be one of her favorite locations.
“It was amazing,” she said. “It was high energy, and people were very interested.”