South Philadelphia’s Fleisher Art Memorial will debut “ColorWheels” on March 24 during a ribbon-cutting event. This community art-making project will take place outside the PNC Branch at 8th and Christian streets at 10 a.m.
This new mobile art studio was funded by a prestigious grant from PNC Arts Alive, a 5-year, $5 million investment from the PNC Foundation that supports visual and performing arts groups with the goal of increasing arts access and engagement.
ColorWheels is equipped with the supplies and tools needed for Fleisher’s teaching artists to engage children and adults in creating on-the-spot works of art. This venture will deliver creative learning experiences to community members in neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia.
The vehicle’s vibrant multi-color design and logo were designed under the direction of graphic design Program Director Jody Graff and created by Drexel University’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design students.
“I feel that art is very important within a community,” said Phillip Gross, Drexel University graphics design student. “Art can tell you something about a person individually, but when a community comes together to create art it gives the community an identity that relates to its traditions and values.
“I hope that this project will promote a strong sense of community and show how art can bring people together in a positive way. The ColorWheels project was created to bring art out into the community, and I think that it is important that everyone has a chance to be exposed to art,” he said.
Between April and July, ColorWheels will host 10 events in South Philadelphia gathering spaces, including Mifflin Square Park and the Cambodian Association, with plans to expand to other Philadelphia neighborhoods in the fall.
ColorWheels was developed in response to in-depth research and interviews with community members funded by a Wallace Foundation Excellence Award that revealed the importance of and the desire for arts opportunities to be accessible where participants live, work and play.
“Our intent at Fleisher is to be able to serve people at any stage of their creative life,” said Fleisher executive director Matthew Braun. “Part of what we’re aiming to do with ColorWheels is to help people become inspired by and then stay engaged with art-making.”
Fleisher is widely recognized for its exceptional caliber and has been cited as a model of excellence by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities under both the Bush and Obama administrations. In 2011, Fleisher received the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award in recognition of the thousands of young people whose lives have been transformed at Fleisher.
Fleisher was one of only 26 arts organizations in the Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey region nominated for their bold thinking around increasing arts access and engagement.
The Fleisher Art Memorial was created by former businessman Sam Fleisher more than 100 years ago to give children from all economic and cultural backgrounds the opportunity to take free art lessons with professional artists.
Today, more than 16,000 people each year experience the transformative power of art by participating in Fleisher’s studio classes, exhibitions and community-based programming.
Fleisher’s arts education programming reaches deeply into local schools and community centers, and has brought the organization national recognition and powerful opportunities to advocate for and shape arts education initiatives throughout the region and the country.
For more information about Fleisher Art Memorial, visit www.fleisher.org.