Staying Power Update


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In 2019, The Village and partner Monument Lab received a grant from the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage to create Staying Power, a large-scale site-specific public exhibition exploring belonging and time in North Philadelphia. This post, written and published over at Monument Lab, offers a window into planning a community-based exhibition during this unprecedented time. 

A blue swimming pool is filled with colorful flowers. Trees stand in the background and a small gray structure. There are candles and flowers in the foreground resembling an altar.

In exhibition planning, process matters as much as outcome.

This guiding principle has carried Monument Lab through numerous projects, from citywide exhibitions to research residencies. We consider it a matter of pacing and intention – a reminder to think big and tend to granular details along the way; move through planning stages at the speed it takes to build trust and relationships; expect detours and incorporate learnings from them; and adjust and iterate with collaborators to keep aims for the integrity of a project high and thresholds for participation open.

The preparations for Spring 2021’s Staying Power – a participatory art and history exhibition hosted by The Village of Arts and Humanities, Monument Lab, and residents of the Fairhill-Hartranft neighborhood of North Central Philadelphia – in the midst of a pandemic and a season of uprising and reckoning have pushed us to both dig deeper and pivot into our practice.

Read the rest of the piece and enjoy more previews of our phenomenal artists over at 

8 inch figurine of James Baldwin wearing a blue coat, hands in pockets and smoking a cigarette.

Last year, Acori had a public studio for the first time at Cherry Street Pier, where his work sparked intergenerational conversation and even drew attention (and a purchase) from Andre 3000 when the actor and musician was in town filming a TV show last spring.

“As I adapted to the space and prepared for it, the pandemic hit. Last year I might not have had enough art for people to purchase, and I finally got the set-up to have it ready. Now I’m back to sculpting in a corner of my living room, so the impact from just the virus alone is crazy.”

Acori used the Gap Fund to buy art materials and re-invest in his craft. He’s using this time to hone existing skills and learn new ones. “I looked around me to see what I had to work with. I’m sculpting, and learning digital painting, digital sculpting, so when I come out of it I’m very well prepared creatively.”

His advice to artists getting through the pandemic? “Use YouTube! It’s all out there. Take that time and invest in yourself. Get those 10,000 hours in so it’s effortless when you go to create.”

To check out more of Acori’s work or purchase a one-of-a-kind work of art, visit his Instagram profile here.

8-inch figurine of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. He has a contemplative expression and is wearing a brown coat with his collar pulled up around his face.