Philadelphia Qualities of Life

 Philadelphia Art Alliance

Through November 25


By Isa Oliveres


Philadelphia: vibrant metropolis on the rise, or post-industrial city of decay? Bustling center of arts and culture, or poverty-ridden haven for crime? “Philadelphia Qualities of Life”, the latest exhibit organized by Philly Works, poses many of these questions and aims to answer them through creative solutions. A collective show featuring local artists, designers, architects and academics, Philadelphia Qualities of Life highlights some of the most pressing issues the city faces today.

For example, in Into the Fold, Brittany Schrum and Meghann Hickson spread awareness about the slashed budgets of Philadelphia public schools and the catastrophic consequences these cuts may have on the city’s children.  Schrum and Hickson have encouraged anyone to write their best memory from school on a paper “flower” and place it on a fence. Dotted with brightly colored doodles and multilingual statements, the fence serves as a simple but powerful reminder of the pivotal roll public schools play in children’s lives and development. This interaction between artist, public, and a Philadelphia problem is even more evident in the wood cutouts that fill the board of In a State from From Equilibrium. The piece proposes an “urban succession model” in which the city is in a constant state of flux, and we are responsible for pinpointing the problems and coming up with solutions. It creates a dialogue between concerned citizens using nothing but permanent markers and plywood figures.

Biofuels, lack of bicycle lanes, food shortages, and love shortages are just some of the problems that the artists of Philadelphia Qualities of Life address. They are as diverse and intricate as the population of the city itself. Ultimately, this exhibit is about creating a collective consciousness regarding Philadelphia’s problems and sparking communal solutions. It does this well.


Isa Oliveres was born and raised in Mexico City, though she currently lives in Philadelphia where she studies English and History.