Awardee: Michelle Angela Ortiz – 2D Visual Arts – Round 2

Impact Statement:

“Our Market” is a community centered, multi-layered, multi-year public art project focused on supporting the vendors, business owners, and neighbors that work and reside in the 9th Street Market.

My family settled in the Market over forty years ago and my mother worked in the Market for twenty-five years. I am building on the emotional and physical labor my mother poured into the Market and the relationships she has cultivated here. I created the “Our Market” project as an investment in my community and to address the need for creative strategies to support and sustain the Market in our city.

At a time of heightened racial tension and trying to survive the impact of the pandemic, finding ways to meet people where there are so we can build together is crucial. Instead of focusing on stories of labor and value based on a capitalist lens, the project will focus on documenting the living history- including BIPOC stories- centered on our emotional and spiritual connection and contributions to the Market. This focus will also be reflected in the visual mapping of our stories created with the community that will manifest in breathing monuments/ public artworks that claim space in the midst of gentrification.

The public artworks would directly benefit the community in these ways:

  • Vendor stands: The project will work with the vendors and build design concepts with them.

With the threat of being removed by the city for parking, the revitalization of the stands is an investment preserving the long tradition of outdoors stands in the Market.

  • Store gates and lighting- There are a number of gray store gates along the Market and the south side (Washington Avenue- Federal) is in need of lighting for safety. The project will aim create designs for the gates and provide lighting installations that reflect the stories of the Market as well as serve the need for lighting.
  • Visual Markers and Murals- The project will generate a mapping of stories that will serve as visual markers for signs and murals to be created. There are several walls on the ground level and above businesses that can serve as spaces for temporary or permanent murals. To support the goal of widening the narrative, these works will reflect the expanded and layered stories that exist in the Market.

The creative strategies embedded in the project serves as a tool to re-imagine our Market together.

Community Connectors:

  • Eugene Giordano (3rd Generation Italian Produce Vendor)
  • Isaiah Pough Jr. (African American Worker)
  • Ben Miller and Christina Martinez (Restaurant Owners)
  • Kevin Nguyen (1st Generation Vietnamese Neighbor and son of a butcher in the Market)
  • Sarah Anton (President of the Passyunk Neighborhood Square Civic Association)
  • Eugene Desyatnik (President of the Bella Vista Neighborhood Association)
  • Danielle Renzulli (Restaurant owner and Board Director of the 9th Street Market Business Association)

Creative Team:

  • Claudia Peregrina (Therapist, Visual Artist)
  • Kim Dinh (Immigrant Rights Organizer and Graphic Designer)
  • Sharece Blakney (Historian focused on African American History)