The Village of Arts and Humanities is a place that has a long and rich history of creating space for community-building through the arts. Originally the building housed the Black Humanitarian Center, founded by artist and humanitarian Arthur Hall. Hall brought the power of dance, music, singing and beyond to the community. Twenty years later, artist Lily Yeh continued Hall’s legacy by creating a park around the center that engaged the community. Since then, the center continues to grow and is a true Philadelphia landmark. There seems to be a clear power to this specific location. As a spiritual person, I do believe energy can be connected to a specific place. The incarnations of 2544 Germantown Ave. proves this theory, and continually draws artists and community members together.
The Village has an artist-in-residence program called “SPACES” and is run by the program manager Lillian Dunn. I was lucky enough to get a wonderful tour from Lillian and learn more about the program. They are currently hosting artist Olanrewaju (Lanre) Tejuoso, who I also got to meet. Tejuoso’s work focuses on using waste materials and giving them new life as works of art. His projects involve community members, who can help create the work. I ended up spending some of my time at the center volunteering on his piece. We were creating a garland-like component that was composed of small squares of cut-up cardboard boxes on string. The process was meditative and made me crave my knitting needles, which have been tucked away for months. We sat in a small room and talked about our art, the project, and such. I left feeling rejuvenated and reminded of the power of community art. Sitting together working on a project creates a special energy that we should all experience from time to time. If you are interested in volunteering for this project, please contact Lillian Dunn to learn more.