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Drexel's Pearlstein Gallery Commissions Three Murals Depicting Indigenous Female Leaders

October 14, 2020

(s)heroes art exhibit

Three Philadelphia-area artists will paint murals outside Drexel's Pearlstein Gallery at an event celebrating the upcoming Native American Heritage Month.

In advance of Native American Heritage Month, Drexel University will present (S)Heroes Among Us, a public art event that will be streamed on the Twitch channel of Drexel’s Pearlstein Gallery on Sunday, Oct.18, 2020 at 1 p.m.  Three Philadelphia-area artists, Priscilla Bell, BUSTA and Leon Rainbow, will paint murals to the sounds of a deejay informed by native music at 3401 Filbert Street in the yard of the gallery.

Each mural will celebrate a female leader in an Indigenous community, from activists and matriarchs to icons. The event will be livestreamed on the gallery’s Twitch channel, and the murals will remain on display through the fall, with additional programing around the work to be announced.

The event will stream for free and is presented in tandem with the gallery’s partners, the Westphal College Diversity Equity & Inclusion Council and We Are the Seeds, a project of CultureTrust Greater Philadelphia supporting diverse cultural practices.

“We Are the Seeds is thrilled to be working in partnership with the Pearlstein Gallery to present programming that surrounds Indigenous Peoples Day,” said Tailinh Agoyo, executive director of We Are the Seeds. “Visitors will experience Native art and culture through a contemporary Indigenous lens. The opportunity to share our own stories through a live art program in the middle of Lenapehoking (Philadelphia) is incredibly meaningful.”

This year, Drexel formally acknowledges Indigenous Peoples Day in lieu of the holiday formerly called Columbus Day and has released a formal land acknowledgement:

The land on which Drexel University stands is Lenape land, and we pay respect and honor to the caretakers of this land, from time immemorial until now, and into the future. We openly recognize the Lenape Indian tribe as the original inhabitants of eastern Pennsylvania. 

Acknowledging this history is consistent with the University’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. Drexel recognizes the historical links between the land on which the University sits and the Lenape peoples. We honor and respect the enduring relationship that exists between these peoples and nations and this land. This land acknowledgment is one small act in the ongoing process of working to be in good relationship with the land and the people of the land. 

Drexel plans to give physical acknowledgement to the Lenape Nation once all classes have resumed on campus.

(s)heroes exhibit

Priscilla Bell was born in North Philadelphia and raised in the Hunting Park section of the city. Bell graduated from the Community College of Philadelphia and received a BFA in 2D fine arts and an MFA in painting from Moore College of Art and Design. Bell looks to her family, surroundings and cultural heritage for guidance and inspiration. She continues to explore the issues that mean the most to her, including parenthood, black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) rights, urban decay and what it means to be a woman artist.

BUSTA is an artist from Chia, Colombia, who was raised around an indigenous community called "MUISCAS" or "CHIBCHAS." His upbringing helped him understand the spiritual aspect of painting and influences his work in the use of some of the patterns and colors he selects. His passion for urban art is derived from the complexity and beauty of the human form. BUSTA’s experience as a graffiti artist Is mainly informed by hip-hop culture and other social scenes as well as indigenous culture.

Leon Rainbow is an artist in Trenton who creatively combines graffiti, street art and other artistic forms into innovative projects and events. He reaches out to wide audience, from galleries to the walls of inner cities. His application of fine arts composition and principles in his work allows him to react and visually educate on social issues and current events. He uses styles that his younger audience can relate to and he designs his visual media with a powerful spiritual message.

“Since we cannot invite people inside the gallery during this time, we want to bring the visual arts to our community through public space,” said Leah Appleton, events director of Westphal College’s newly founded Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Council and gallery exhibitions coordinator for the Pearlstein Gallery. “I’m glad to have an opportunity to raise up the voices of our Indigenous community members, especially through allocating land.”

For more information and to RSVP for (S)Heroes Among Us, click here.


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