From September 15th through October 15th, 2023, an interactive public installation will be presented near the Cut, a sub-street level, open-air green space that runs parallel to Callowhill Street from North Broad Street to 18th Street. The project is installed along the 18th Street pedestrian bridge that traverses the Cut. Asian Arts Initiative (AAI), in collaboration with eo Studio and 2022 Artists-in-Residence Dr. Ashley Gripper (of Land Based Jawns) and Sonia Galiber (of Soil Generation), present an immersive mixed reality project called Invasive Species: Eco/Systems Land Based Initiatives. The project invites visitors to use mixed reality as they cross-pollinate the Cut’s diverse plant life with narratives about cultural and physical migration. Throughout the project, eo Studio, Gripper, and Galiber engage community members to collect personal narratives and migration stories. The project includes an interactive multimedia performance on October 7th and 8th along the 18th Street Bridge. Details in the Programs page; admission is free and open to all.
This exhibit explores the Cut as a complex and nurturing habitat; in conjunction, it scrutinizes the term “invasive species,” offering insight into the way we see flora, fauna, and each other, as well as what we don’t see. Around the globe, plants, like people, have always found ways to migrate, explore, and adapt. And yet, the term “invasive species” is often used when referring to plants and bugs that are not native to a land; especially as they begin to have a noticeable or disruptive presence within the ecosystem. While the impact of that presence may be worth noting, what often goes undertold is the story of human interference that causes plant migration and abrupt changes to ecosystems. Without this piece of the narrative, the plant or bug itself becomes stigmatized as unwelcome and disruptive. The political implications of using the language “invasive species” becomes all the more problematic when considering the parallel to migration and displacement of people.
AAI envisions how artists can innovate interventions to create awareness of the environment and stories we carry, supplementing the work of local institutions and circumventing historic challenges via creative, transformative strategies. As a racially identified organization, AAI seeks to engage artists who represent the global and city majority in a community-led process that will directly impact our Chinatown/Callowhill North neighbors and neighborhood as a whole. In a city and arts field recovering from a devastating year amid myriad pandemics, we intend to support artists from marginalized communities who can most speak to the benefits and challenges posed by urban greenspace renewal, climate disaster, and migration.
Invasive Species: Eco/Systems Land Based Initiatives is a project of Asian Arts Initiative. Concept by Ashley Gripper and Sonia Galiber. Public Art by eo Studio.
Invasive Species: Eco/Systems Land Based Initiatives is funded by the Our Town Grant of the National Endowment for the Arts and the William Penn Foundation. Our Town projects advance local economic, physical, or social outcomes in communities, ultimately laying the groundwork for systems change and centering equity. These projects require a partnership between a nonprofit organization and a local government entity, with one of the partners being a cultural organization. Asian Arts Initiative is pleased to partner with SEPTA and the City of Philadelphia to present Eco/Systems: Land Based Initiatives in 2023.
Please note: This project is viewed from the 18st pedestrian bridge. The substreet-level Cut is not accessible to the public.
Ashley Gripper aka Dr. Grip is a fifth generation Philadelphian with North Philly roots that trace back to South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, and Texas. She is an environmental health scientist, an educator at heart and in practice, and a creator of nurturing spaces and experiences that nourish people’s spirits and desire for building community. Ashley founded and is now co-leading Land Based Jawns, a spiritually-rooted and spiritually-grounded project that offers land-based skills and healing workshops for Black Philadelphians. All of her work – interpersonally, professionally, and academically - is about helping Black folks' re-member and reclaim our relationships to the Creator, to our ancestors, to each other, and to our Earth mama. Ashley was a co-creator of Philadelphia’s First Urban Agriculture Plan, a multi-year project that has defined new ways to collaborate and share decision-making among grassroots organizers, City agencies, and urban planning firms.Read more
Sonia Galiber is a grower, educator, political organizer, and artist. As a member of Soil Generation, she does land, food, and environmental policy work, graphic design, and contributes to healing modalities and developing core theories. Philadelphia’s first Urban Agriculture Strategic Plan and Soil Generation’s Agroecology FROM the People are among the works she has helped co-create. Sonia is also an herbalist, hot sauce maker, and an artist of Japanese calligraphy and self-taught illustration. Sonia draws inspiration from her Afro-Okinawan roots and her deep reverence of the mystical natural world.Read more
Eto Otitigbe is a polymedia artist whose interdisciplinary practice includes sculpture, performance, installation, and public art. His practice intersects history, community, and biophilic design. Otitigbe’s public works includes temporary installations in Socrates Sculpture Park (Queens, NY) and Randall’s Island Park (New York, NY). He was a member of the Design Team for the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers at UVA (Charlottesville, VA) where he contributed to the creative expression on the memorial's exterior surface. Most recently, Peaceful Journey, a tribute to Heavy D, was completed in Mt. Vernon, NY. Otitigbe’s current public commissions include: Cascode (Philadelphia, PA) and Emanativ (Harlem, NY). He is the founder of eo Studio, which received the Creative Capital Grant in 2023 for the project Tankugbe Incubation Lab. Otitigbe’s fellowships and awards include The 2023 Augustus St. Gaudens Fellowship, The CEC Artslink Project Award for travel and cultural projects in Egypt, and The Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship at the National Museum of African Art where he explored the intersection of Urhobo language and historical objects. He is an Assistant Professor of Sculpture in the Art Department at Brooklyn College. He received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from MIT, an M.S. in Product Design from Stanford University (M.S.) and an MFA in Creative Practice from the University of Plymouth.Read more
Amanda Kerdahi is a visual artist and DJ. Her installation work focuses on the evidence and residue of intimate conversations held between women in Cairo, Egypt. Kerdahi exhibits internationally, and in 2014, she received a grant from The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture for Filtered Conversations at Round Table. In 2018, she and Eto Otitigbe co-curated Topophilia, a video art exhibition with 16 international artists in an abandoned farmhouse in Nees, Denmark. She co-founded Benefsigy Studio, a 5 room artspace in downtown Cairo. Additionally, she organized Pop Up on the Nile, a series of women-centered dance parties on feluccas, which are popular motorboats on the Nile, and served as resident DJ. These vibrant events featured an eclectic mix of music deeply rooted in diaspora and encompassing multiple languages. She received a BFA in Digital Media, a BS in Psychology from the University of Houston and an MFA in Creative Practice from the University of Plymouth, UK. As part of eo Studio, she is a Creative Capital 2023 Awardee for Tankugbe Incubation Lab.Read more
Michael DiCarlo is an artist and designer whose practice is rooted in architecture and architectural methods. He is particularly interested in projects that blend disciplines and require special attention to be given to public interaction, not only with the artwork, but also with the surrounding architectural or urban context. DiCarlo helps to realize visionary concepts into tangible, real-world objects while developing novel fabrication and construction strategies. He has worked closely with artists, designers and architects on a range of scales- from product to large scale art and architectural installations- across the US and Europe. DiCarlo has worked with Walid Raad, William Tucker, Gensler Architects, Concrete Works Studio (Oakland, CA), Associated Fabrication (Brooklyn, NY), Thomas Heatherwick Studios (London, UK), and Jeanne Schultz Design Studio (Barcelona, Spain), to name a few. In 2018, DiCarlo worked with French architect, Arthur Mamou-Mani, on Galaxia Temple, a large-scale Timber space for BurningMan, built by an international team of over 100 individuals. Currently, he is working with UV Labs to produce NEMETON, a temporary public art installation in Strasbourg, France. As part of eo Studio, DiCarlo is a Creative Capital 2023 Awardee for Tankugbe Incubation Lab, and he recently completed a Masters in Robotics for Advanced Construction at the Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalonia, in Barcelona.Read more
Zane Rodulfo is a drummer & composer living and working in Brooklyn, NY. Born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago, Rodulfo has been intrigued by the sound of music since an infant. He began studying and performing music at the early age of 4 and completed graduate study in Jazz Studies at New York University. He holds Bachelor of Music degrees in both Jazz Performance and Ethnomusicology from the Oberlin Conservatory Of Music. Zane has opened for iconic musicians such as Stevie Wonder and performs at various festivals and venues such as Jazz at Lincoln Center and Blue Note. He has also worked as composer and music coordinator for films and documentaries. Zane has partnered with and been commissioned by organizations such as the Guggenheim Museum, The Harlem Arts Alliance, the Brooklyn Arts Council and Hi-ARTS. His composition, Around The Circle, commissioned by the Guggenheim Museum, was part of the Vasily Kandinsky exhibition from August 2021 through September 2022. He focuses on publicly-engaging work addressing decolonization, the intersection of traditional and contemporary music, and ideas of transcendence. He performs and composes with electro-acoustic instruments, videos, and found/re-purposed instruments.Read more
Chrissy Brimmage (she/they) is a multidisciplinary artist living and working out of Brooklyn, NY, by way of Atlanta, GA. Her practice integrates digital and material mediums and space to research the structures of consciousness & experience. She is currently interested in investigating social phenomenology, identity formation, spatial anthropology and embodied romance. She has shown works both nationally and internationally with PPOW Gallery in conjunction with Frieze Fair (New York), VMF Winter Arts (Vancouver), WISH Gallery (Atlanta) and more, and has taken residency with IMMENSIVA (Barcelona), Laboratory Interactive Art Residency (Spokane), and The Recurse Center (New York).Read more
Rory Scott is a multidisciplinary artist, whose work utilizes animation, extended-reality (AR & VR) along with handcrafted means to create emotive environments & re-imagined life. Since 2010, her primary focus has been on her ongoing project Impermanence—which serves as both her life practice and visual body of work. Impermanence, as a practice, is an ongoing reflection and confrontation with the passage of time. An exercise of letting go and learning to use time as an agent of change, by creating deliberate & consistent patterns to achieve desired results. As a body of work, Impermanence embodies these ideas through the use of visual patterns & the creation of worlds that reflect the inner universe of memory, thought & mind. While also examining the origins of thought, belief and the perception of reality, through the use of dreamlike imagery and augmented worlds. These ideas in conjunction with Scott’s interest in futurism/technology and its relationship with humanity, form the foundation of her work. “If nothing else, I hope that my work opens up more minds to the true collective nature of reality. That the lives we live and the world we experience, are a mirror reflection of the patterns of our inner dialogue & thoughts. When you change your thoughts, you change your behaviors & actions and when you change your actions you change yourself, when you change yourself, you change your community & humanity in turn.”Read more
Rudy Gerson (b. 1993) is an artist originally from Las Vegas, Nevada who currently lives and works in Philadelphia, PA. Rudy works across disciplines and media to investigate aesthetic expressions of diaspora and propose non-narrative and post-documentary approaches to historical inquiry. Alongside a studio practice, Rudy collaborates with artists and performers for public works, the stage, and installation. They performed at Abrons Arts Center (2019, 2022) with the River-to-River festival (2022), with Tania Bruguera (2018) and Julie Tolentino (2023). Rudy currently works as a member of eo Studio on two public artworks in Philadelphia. They studied Comparative Literature and Anthropology at Cornell University (B.A.) and received an MFA from the University of Pennsylvania.Read more
Ann Adachi-Tasch is the Project Manager for the Invasive Species project. She is a musician, arts administrator, and mother of three children. Since 2010, Ann’s work has revolved around thinking about the interconnection and the economy between access and preservation, in particular pertaining to Japanese avant-garde moving image works, and has worked to open a wider access to its histories through digital platforms and exhibitions, while establishing a network of caretakers to preserve and secure longevity of film and video materials.Read more
Abigail Akindude Abigail Akindude is a Jamaican/Nigerian American multidisciplinary artist and fabricator whose practice explores the complexities of Black life. She draws inspiration from her own life experiences, and the stories she has been impacted by.Through her interdisciplinary approach she uses an array of materials to create a visual narrative of contrasting forms and textures investigating the feelings and experiences of life. Her art is a form of activism presenting some of the overlooked and forgotten stories of the diaspora. She studied at Hunter College-CUNY where she received a BA in psychology as well as Brooklyn College-CUNY where she received a BFA in studio art. She currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. She was recently a scholarship artist at Manhattan Graphics Center where she exhibited prints and an artist talk about her series Lady Parts detailing Black Women and their reproductive health.Read more
Asian Arts Initiative
Located in Philadelphia’s Chinatown North, Asian Arts Initiative is a multidisciplinary arts center offering exhibitions, performances, artist residencies, youth workshops, and a community gathering space. Here, all of us can view and create art that reflects our lives, and think critically, creatively about the future we want to build for our communities.