Event

Dedication of “Common Ground” for Project H.O.M.E.

June 4, 2009 rain or shine
Project H.O.M.E’s St. Elizabeth’s Community Center (23rd and Berks Street, Philadelphia, PA)

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.

Cutting the ribbon at "Common Ground" dedication ceremony.
Cutting the ribbon at “Common Ground” dedication ceremony. From left to right: artist Lonnie Graham; Susan Myers, Project Manager for the Fairmount Park Art Association; artist Lorene Cary; Penny Balkin Bach, Executive Director of The Fairmount Park Art Association, consulting architect George Claflen; Helen Brown, St. Elizabeth’s Community Organizer; artist John Stone, general contractor Gary Lorenzon; and Jill Roberts, Community Development Project Manager for St. Elizabeth’s Community Cemter. Photo Harvey Finkle © 2009 for the Association for Public Art

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.

Artist John Stone and Sister Mary Scullion, Executive Director of Project H.O.M.E.
Artist John Stone and Sister Mary Scullion, Executive Director of Project H.O.M.E. Photo Harvey Finkle © 2009 for the Association for Public Art.

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).

Artist Lonnie Graham, consulting architect George Claflen, and artist John Stone under the oculus of the Sanctuary, part of Common Ground.
Artist Lonnie Graham, consulting architect George Claflen, and artist John Stone under the oculus of the “Sanctuary,” part of “Common Ground.” Photo Harvey Finkle © 2009 for the Association for Public Art

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.

Artists John Stone, Lorene Cary and Lonnie Graham posing in front of a photo mural of the former St. Elizabeth's Church
Artists John Stone, Lorene Cary and Lonnie Graham posing in front of a photo mural of the former St. Elizabeth’s Church. Photo Harvey Finkle © 2009 for the Association for Public Art

Related Artworks

Artwork

Common Ground

(2009)

by Lonnie Graham (1954 - ), Lorene Cary (1956 - ), John H. Stone (1966 - )

Project H.O.M.E., St. Elizabeth Community Center at 23rd and Berks Streets

A permanent public art project that provides new meeting places for the Project H.O.M.E. community to gather, reflect, and celebrate.

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