First Person Arts Festival features African American Museum’s “Outcry!”

'Outcry' is at Christ Church Neighborhood House. Image via Shutterstock and First Person Arts.

An exhibit of varied works from around the world responds to reported deaths of African-American men, women, and children by police. Curated by the African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP), “Outcry!” is part of the 14th annual First Person Arts Festival.

The artists aimed to use their creativity to foster conversation and social accountability, organizers say. Leslie Guy, AAMP’s director of curatorial services, said the variety of voices “address the diversity and the myriad ways in which people are responding to this.” Some of the art features photography capturing what’s happening now. Other pieces look at the issue through a historical lens and discuss “what led us to this place,” she said, “conflating the past and the present so we have a fuller sense.” Other art looks at the internal and psychological aspects exploring how difficult it can be “to feel where you don’t belong and at any time could be a victim and wonder ‘how can I protect myself in this environment?’”

“Outcry!” events

“Outcry!” features a performance by Philadelphia Orchestra members on Tuesday, November 10. The program features Hannibal Lokumbe’s composition about civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer. The exhibit’s Opening Reception will be Thursday, November 12 and features artists discussing their works. Featured artists include: Avtomat, Jademan Baker, Janet Braun-Reinitz, Jacqueline Campbell, Sahar Coston-Hardy, American Queen TJD, Eca Eps, Brian Gaither, Josh Graupera, Theodore A. Harris, Marco Hill, Willis Humphrey, Tiffany Ike, Leroy Johnson, Ameerah K., April Martin, Tieshka K. Smith, Chris M. Taylor, William Wallace, Michael Wiley, Janice Willis, and Jennifer Younge.

The exhibit and associated events, which run through November 15, are free, but registration for the Tuesday and Thursday events is required. All will be held at Christ Church Neighborhood House, 20 N. American Street, Philadelphia.

Stories that must be told now

The First Person Arts Festival, which also runs through November 15, offers storytelling, food events, workshops, performances, visual arts, author events, and more with the goal of allowing life to become art “when internationally renowned artists and everyday people take to stages across the city to tell their real life stories,” organizers say.

First Person Arts (FPA) aims to be a platform for stories that must be told now, says Executive Director Jamie J. Brunson, and “Outcry!” fits with that goal.

“We’ve all seen the mass media coverage sweeping the nation around reported police brutality,” she said. “This powerful visual arts exhibit…seeks to give voice and a platform to artists responding to negative representation in the media.”

Guy said the Museum and FPA have collaborated in the past, and she’s excited to do so again. It’s a chance to have first-person voices on this issue reach an even wider audience. She appreciates FPA’s “commitment to artists sharing their voices and the authenticity of sharing an individual point of view.”

She thinks “Outcry!” is not a typical exhibit and hopes that people will engage as well as enjoy: “It’s an artistic platform and community gathering space where people can come together and have really critical discussions and exchange ideas about the most important social justice issue of our time.”

For a full list of FPA events and ticket links, click here

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