Throughout her body of work, Michelle Angela Ortiz engages with experiences of immigration in Philadelphia, especially through family stories and intergenerational histories. For Monument Lab, Ortiz’s Seguimos Caminando (We Keep Walking) imagines the gates of City Hall as a space of imaginative projection, juxtaposed with hundreds of sculptures on the building that mark the historic and mythic past of the city. In a series of animated projections held on Wednesday and Friday evenings throughout the exhibition, Ortiz will honor mothers previously or currently unjustly detained at Berks Detention Center, a prison outside of Philadelphia for immigrant families. The animated images in her moving monument originate from compiled writings from two mothers sharing their stories while detained at Berks. Ortiz worked on Seguimos Caminando with the Shut Down Berks Coalition and the mothers detained at Berks, and will organize a creative action with Shut Down Berks during the Monument Lab exhibition.
Location: Site 01: City Hall
Lab Hours: Open Daily: 12pm – 7pm
1pm – 4pm
Seguimos Caminando Projections: Wednesday and Friday Evenings: 8pm – 10pm, North Apron of City Hall
Animation and projection
Seguimos Caminando (We Keep Walking) Collaborators
The Shut Down Berks Coalition, Jasmine Rivera, Mothers at Berks, Klip Collective, Gralin Hughes, Jeff Bethea, and Jose Mazariegos
The City of Philadelphia; The Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy; and the Department of Public Property
Flores de Libertad (Flowers of Freedom)
WORKSHOPS WITH ARTIST
Michelle Angela Ortiz
Join artist Michelle Angela Ortiz at the Monument Lab Research Field Office located on the grounds of the Barnes Foundation this Fall for a series of free paper flower workshops, in conjunction with her Seguimos Caminando (We Keep Walking) prototype monument at City Hall. Ortiz is making thousands of paper flowers, a tradition passed down by her maternal grandmother, with messages of freedom for the families detained at the Berks Detention Center, a prison outside of Philadelphia for immigrant families. The flowers created here will be assembled in a creative action at City Hall in late October. Ortiz intends to honor mothers previously or currently unjustly detained at Berks Detention Center along with partners from the Shut Down Berks Coalition. Ortiz will adorn the windows of the Field Office with the flowers to prepare them for City Hall, and then re-stage this creative action in the Barnes Foundation's light filled Annenberg Court on Sunday, November 5.
FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
Workshops in the Field Research Office
Sunday, Oct.1: 1-4pm; Saturday, Oct. 7: 1-4pm; Saturday, Oct. 14: 1-4pm; Friday, Oct. 20: 6-9:30pm; Saturday, Oct. 21: 1-4pm
Activations in The Barnes' Annenberg Court
Monday, Oct. 23: 12:30-3pm; Sunday, Nov. 5: 9-11:30am
My moving monument is a tribute to the undocumented mothers detained at Berks Detention Center, a prison outside of Philadelphia for immigrant families. The work will be an animation informed by the collective stories centered on the mothers’ journey, resilience, and fight for freedom. Their animated stories will be projected on the gates of City Hall in Philadelphia. In addition to the animation, the mothers inside will produce paper flowers that will join the flowers created by participants through creative workshops that I will lead at the Barnes Foundation’s Monument Lab Research Field Office. The flowers will be placed in front of the animated piece and will highlight the messages of the mothers detained.
About the Artist
Michelle Angela Ortiz is a visual artist/skilled muralist/community arts educator who uses her art as a vehicle to represent people and communities whose histories are often lost or co-opted. Through painting, printmaking, and community arts practices, she creates a safe space for dialogue around some of the most profound issues communities and individuals may face. Her work tells stories using richly crafted and emotive imagery to claim and transform “blighted” spaces into a visual affirmation that reveals the strength and spirit of the community.
For over fifteen years, Ortiz has continued to be an active educator in using the arts as a tool for communication to bridge communities. As a highly skilled muralist, Ortiz has designed and created over 50 large-scale public works nationally (PA, NJ, MS, NY) and internationally. Since 2008, Ortiz has led community building and art for social change public art projects both independently in Costa Rica and Ecuador and through the United States Embassy as a Cultural Envoy in Fiji, Mexico, Argentina, Spain, Venezuela, and Honduras. In Cuba, she completed the first US-funded public art project since the re-opening of the United States Embassy in Havana in 2015.
Banner: Seguimos Caminando (We Keep Walking), Michelle Angela Ortiz, Animation and projection. City Hall. Photo courtesy of the artist.