By Tim Gibbon for the Passyunk Post
On Tuesday, June 5th students, teachers, project partners, and community members gathered at Eliza Kirkbride School, 1501 South 7th Street, for the dedication of the new mosaic mural that now adorns the front of their school. Kirkbride students worked with COSACOSA art at large, Inc. to produce the mural, titled “Philadelphia: Love & Liberty.” COSACOSA is a non-profit organization that engages people of differing backgrounds to work together toward a common goal through participatory art-making.
The new mosaic mural at Kirkbride. Photo by Ellie Seif.
The artwork celebrates both Philadelphia’s role in the founding of the nation and the hopes of its youth. Students investigated connections among the ideals expressed in our nation’s founding documents and immigrant stories from their families, their school, and their neighborhood. Kirkbride students represent more than 30 different ethnicities, and many are new immigrants. The ceremony coincided with the national celebration of Immigrant Heritage Month.
Kirkbride student artists. Photo by Tim Gibbon.
The ceremony featured remarks principal Rebecca Julien and teachers Catherine Memmolo and Peter Metcalfe. Praising the student’s work, COSACOSA Director Kimberly Niemela said, “In the mural, a rainbow bridge of understanding runs across the entire city.”
Sabrya Ross, an 8th grade student at Kirkbride who worked on the mural, noted that “Love and freedom are very important because there’s a lot of separation and hate in the world. We should all try to come together to make it better.” Fellow 8th-grader Guosheng Chen added, “When we are united together as one community, we can achieve any goal.”
Sabrya Ross, an 8th grade student at Kirkbride gives her remarks. Photo by Ellie Seif.
Otis Hackney, the city’s Chief Education Officer for the Mayor’s Office of Education commended the student’s work, “You built this. You created this. One day you will be able to drive by with kids your age and say I made that. I am a huge supporter of arts in schools.”
Symbol Lai, Deputy Director, Office of Immigrant Affairs noted that, “Murals like this remind us of who we are as a city and who we hope to be. They let our neighbors – many of whom might be the targets of anti-immigrant attacks- know that we stand by them.”
Kirkbride students, staff, organizers and dignitaries at the mural dedication. Photo by Ellie Seif.
The project received a 2018 Picasso Project grant award from Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY). Since 2002, PCCY’s Picasso Project has provided access to the arts for 41,000 students through strategic grants to 164 schools. The Picasso Project advocates for full and equitable funding for arts education for Philadelphia students.