May 01, 2015
About the Project
Following the development of the John C. Anderson Apartments, Philadelphia’s first housing project devoted to serving LGBTQ seniors, and in partnership with the Attic Youth Center, Mural Arts is exploring the cross-generational relationships within Philadelphia’s LGBTQ community. The project situates the contemporary queer experience into the context of an intensely oppressive past, while giving youth the opportunity to reflect upon their moment in history.
Through a series of cross-generational collaborative workshops, youth from The Attic and seniors from Anderson met to discuss their current freedoms while figuring out the next steps in achieving acceptance.
In addition to the photo portraits, a facilitator from the Attic and artist Brandon Dean led a series of three meetings between students and seniors, focusing on intersectionality such as race, class, and gender identity. Acknowledging the depth of history and experience at Anderson, residents also had a chance to share their stories with the Attic students. Dean led zine-making workshops during these gatherings and recorded conversations between youth and seniors. He also created a “master zine” with pocket sleeves that catalogs student and senior produced zines.
Dean’s contribution was distributed at the project dedication as a companion to the portrait series. Through storytelling, history lessons, and art-making stronger relationships were built between the older and younger generations.
Two artists, Ashley Kolodner and Brandon Dean were selected for the project. Kolodner led a series of workshops with students at the Attic that explore how to visualize identity. Each student created a wallpaper-like sheet that became the backdrop in the photo portraits. Kolodner also photographed the senior residents from Anderson.
Each participant’s photo session resulted in two portraits: one with eyes closed to show their vulnerability and a second with eyes open to show their strength and personality. The photographs will be compiled as a series and installed as a poster campaign in Center City Philadelphia and billboards throughout the city at large through a partnership with Clear Channel. This series of portraits will show the diversity and range of personalities of the LGBTQ community in Philadelphia.