Summer Centered: Alliyah Allen '18 Explores Art And Community
The religion major is interning at the Village of Art and Humanities in North Philadelphia, working with its Artist-in-Residence Program.
Alliyah Allen '18 is driven by her interest in community. As a religion major, she is focused on ethics and society, rather than a single major world religion, and as an Africana studies concentrator, she is cultivating a global understanding of African societies and the African diaspora. This summer she is exploring that interest in a practical context as an intern for the Village of Art and Humanities in North Philadelphia, which supports the voices and aspirations of the neighboring community by providing opportunities for self-expression rooted in art and culture. For her self-designed internship, which is funded by John B. Hurford '60 Center for the Arts and Humanities, Allen is working for the Village’s SPACES Program, an artist-in-residence project that, this summer, is hosting two artists from West Africa.
“The Village is integral to this neighborhood,” says Allen. “The work done here changes lives, economically, spiritually, and more. The Village has historic value and the work being done currently lays down an amazing foundation for more grounds of creativity, community building, and ultimately change.”
Allen’s work include completing research projects and other administrative duties for the SPACES program manager, as well as assisting the visiting artists by “making sure they have everything they need while being away from home.” But she doesn’t spend her whole day inside an office. In addition to its main programming building on 10th and Lehigh, the Village encompasses a North Alder Street block that includes studios, artists’ homes, and a farm, and Allen enjoys the time she gets to spend walking around that block and engaging with community members.
“My favorite part [of the internship] has been the meeting people who hang out at the village and on the block,” she says. “For example, Dr. Superman—this is what he calls himself—and his brother are typically always sitting in the shade in Ile Ife Park. Whenever I walk by we talk for a while and he tells all about his life as a singer, how he grew up in Philly with his brother, and has traveled the world.”
The mission of the Village, which includes inspiring its neighbors to be agents of positive social change through arts programming, resonates with Allen, who is interested in what makes people come together and how art can facilitate such a union.
“My mission is to learn about others and also myself,” she says, “to constantly refresh my perspective, and to create spaces and outlets for others to do the same.”
-Rebecca Raber with reporting by Jamauri Bowles ’17
“Summer Centered” is a series exploring our students’ Center-funded summer work.