I Am Here

If a city may be defined by its art, then Philadelphia is revolutionary with its artistic trailblazers who have set the tone with unleashed self-expression. These artists bond our communities with shared visceral moments – constantly shaping a culture that defies the trappings of being boxed into idioms that try to define creativity in terms of subversive elements of expression. These artists follow a history of groundbreakers whose actions resulted from a need to be heard.

These are the artists that give us reason to pocket our devices and look around us. They make long walks enlightening experiences. They have the need to connect with their city and share with their neighbors in a unique way that is all their own. They dedicate their time to connecting with us, whether it be through a powerful message, image, or a simple expression of beauty. Seeing their work around the city reminds us that it is our choice to express ourselves, and that we truly have the power to make a difference, to brighten up an area that needed some TLC, to break down the sometimes intimidating gallery and museum walls, to express a common voice to the community, to simply say, “I am feeling inspired. All viewers are welcome. Here it is!” without any reservations. Philadelphia holds such a rich history of countless people feeling driven to express their passions through uplifting visuals, being so energetic that it is sometimes so hard to hold back--having no other choice but to listen to the revolutionary ardor that sings from these historic streets. Through this exhibition, we aim to celebrate all of the people in Philadelphia who have been inspired and were driven to continue passing on the message of inspiration to others, while never ceasing to be inspired themselves. We have chosen to highlight some of the Philadelphia artists that have greatly affected our lives, but we also acknowledge that there is no way the passion that emanates from Philadelphia’s artists of all kinds could ever be contained in one room – a truth worthy of celebration in itself! Our hope is that you feel and see the beauty of this city as a member of its community, whether you are here for years or just an hour, and that this energy stays with you and continues to spill out into the streets for years to come.

We are so pleased to present this phenomenal roster of artists, whose individual passions represent a link back to the blossoming graffiti culture, a creative philosophy influencing work with more depth than the definition “outsider art” allows. We also present a photographer, whose work has helped document the landscape of events in Philadelphiaʼs burgeoning generational shift that is pushing us to stray away from using generic terms such as “street art” to define the diversity of artistic work. “I Am Here” is an exhibition of six individuals who collectively represent a commonality in all artists – a traversing of traditional conventions in pursuit of a name of their own.

-Sara McCorriston and Ginger Rudolph
Curator and Content Specialist, respectively, of “I Am Here”
the artblog: I Am Here at James Oliver Gallery
Knight Arts: Street art from Cornbread to conceptual at James Oliver Gallery
InLiquid: Street Art is Here
DoNArTNeWs: I Am Here
Video clip from artist talk with Darryl "Cornbread" McCray
Additional Press:
Streets Dept
Philly in Focus
For more information about the exhibition, click here.
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