On June 4, 2009, a diverse group of neighbors, community leaders, and friends of the Art Association and Project H.O.M.E. came together to celebrate the dedication of Common Ground, the Art Association’s newest public art project commissioned through the New•Land•Marks program.
Designed by artists John Stone and Lonnie Graham, in collaboration with Lorene Cary and consulting architect George Claflen, Common Ground is comprised of three elements: an open-air Sanctuary, an Inspirational Gateway, and an indoor Common Room, which together create new dedicated meeting spaces for the community. The project is located at Project H.O.M.E’s St. Elizabeth’s Community Center at 23rd and Berks Street on the “footprint” of St. Elizabeth’s Church, which was destroyed by fire in 1995.
Speaking to the assembled group, Lonnie Graham described “public art” as the art we create in our everyday interactions with one another. Sister Mary Scullion echoed Graham’s sentiments, and offered her hope that the project will serve as a daily reminder of this community’s power to overcome obstacles.
Evidence of the community’s involvement is apparent throughout Common Ground – large photomurals and quotes from local matriarchs line the walls of the Common Room, and an artist-made chandelier created from artifacts saved from the former St. Elizabeth’s church hangs in the center of the room. A wedding is already planned to take advantage of the Sanctuary, which will serve as a place of reflection and celebration that was lost when the church was destroyed. The final element, the Inspirational Gateway incorporates the words “Hope,” “Strength,” and “Experience,” key concepts for many participants in Project H.O.M.E.’s comprehensive programs.
Common Ground was featured on WRTI’s Creatively Speaking on June 13, 2009. Click here to listen to the audio (note: Common Ground begins at 14:40).
Common Ground was commissioned through the Art Association’s ongoing program New•Land•Marks: public art, community, and the meaning of place and was made possible by funding from The William Penn Foundation, the Fairmount Park Art Association, National Endowment for the Arts, Connelly Foundation, Samuel S. Fels Fund, The Barra Foundation, The Christian R. and Mary Lindback Foundation, Union Benevolent Association, The Honickman Foundation, Dolfinger-McMahon Foundation, Macy’s Foundation, and an anonymous donor.