Summer Centered: Sarah Green ’18 and Alliyah Allen ’18 Support Philly’s Monument Lab Project
With Mural Arts Philadelphia, the nation’s largest public art program, the two rising seniors are helping the city and its citizens display public monuments representing the City of Brotherly Love.
“What is an appropriate monument for the current city of Philadelphia?” This is the guiding question behind Monument Lab, a public art and history project that will install a diverse collection of temporary monuments, conceived by and for the people, around the city this fall. Sarah Green ’18 and Alliyah Allen ’18 are helping to plan for the Sept. 16 launch of this collaborative artistic effort of unprecedented size and scope.
Green and Allen are serving as student researchers for the project, which was created by former Visiting Assistant Professor of Writing Paul Farber and Ken Lum, and is supported by grants from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. Allen, in fact, was even a part of the discovery phase of the project back in 2015, when the curators welcomed artists, activists, and the public to the courtyard of City Hall to share ideas for future monuments. Green also has history with Monument Lab; she joined Farber during last summer’s planning and research phase. All of that work will come to fruition this fall when Mural Arts Philadelphia will install over 20 temporary artworks by artists (including Zoe Strauss, Kara Crombie, Kaitlin Pomerantz, and Alexander Rosenberg) across Center City, in several city parks and neighborhoods..
The two Fords are both excited to conduct the behind-the-scenes work to help the collaborative, community-based effort materialize.
“Monument Lab will be a citywide public art festival of an unprecedented scale in Philadelphia, and its goal is to provide access for every Philadelphian,” said Green. “I feel lucky to be part of a project that will prioritize the voices of those who usually go unheard.”
Both Green and Allen are working behind-the-scenes on the ambitious project’s many moving parts. Green, as she assists Farber, is collecting data for one of the project’s artists and helping organize a Mural Arts symposium in July, but expects her duties to change as time goes on. Allen is working with other Monument Lab staff to provide research, conduct outreach, and train staff at the project’s various “labs” where community members are invited to join in the process of proposing and conceptualizing monument ideas. Allen is looking forward to opening doors for community expression and liberation.
“This project is a work that engages with the intersections between art and social change,” she said. “Monument Lab is a project that is actively transforming the way we understand how cities work, how art functions, and how history is written.”
“[This] relates a lot to sociology because the use of art as a catalyst for social change has distinct sociological applications having to do with the social significance of art, the effects of access to the arts on social dynamics, and the intersection of social justice and artistic endeavors,” said Green.
Allen, a member of Womxn of Color and the Black Students League who manages her own blog, focuses her religious studies on “theories, works, and spaces of liberation, spirituality, diversity, healing, and expression.” Her portrait series of students of color from last year, she says, shares Monument Lab’s goal of connecting with and uplifting those who often go unseen.
Allen is receiving support from the Center for Career and Professional Advising Liberal Arts in the Workplace Program, while Green was awarded funding from the John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities for a self-designed internship. With the help of these two Centers, the two rising seniors are leaving their marks on a major civic project that is set to touch countless lives and communities throughout Philadelphia.
-Michael Weber ’19
“Summer Centered” is a series exploring our students’ Center-funded summer work.