There are more than 146 languages spoken by Philadelphians: Cambodian, Russian, Portuguese, Arabic, French Creole, to name a few.
Of the nearly 22% of the city’s 1.5 million residents who speak a language other than English at home, the largest group are Spanish-speaking.
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Here are three art initiatives in Philly aimed at serving Spanish-bilingual audiences.
At Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, nine papier-mâché sculptures, some up to 6 feet tall, are distributed around the outdoor labyrinth, each with an audio component that visitors can hear on their smartphones by scanning a QR code.
The installation, called “Vidas suspendidas/Suspended Lives,” is the most recent multiplatform art project created by the nonprofit health organization Puentes de Salud in South Philadelphia.
Conceptualized and curated by Puentes de Salud’s Arts and Culture Director Nora Hiriart Litz, it narrates, in Spanish and English, the personal stories of nine Latinx artists’ on their journeys to living in the United States.
Leah Reisman, arts and culture coordinator for Puentes de Salud, said the storytelling component in both languages gives the general public the opportunity to learn about the complex lives of immigrants in this country, while dignifying artists that are Spanish-first speakers.
“These sculptures aren’t made for an English-speaking audience," Reisman said. "They are for a multilingual community that is Philadelphia.”
11 a.m. to 6 p.m., through Monday, Nov. 18, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, 1020 South St., 215-733-0390, phillymagicgardens.org
The Museum of the American Revolution has partnered with the community-based organization Casa de Venezuela to provide two guided tours within the museum’s galleries for a one-day event.
The initiative is part of the museum’s citizenship program, a free, four-week course that helps applicants learn answers to the possible 10 of 100 civics questions they will be asked for their naturalization test. It’s the first time that the museum will provide an in-house guided tour in a language other than English.
Four Casa de Venezuela volunteers will serve as interpreters for groups as large as 30 participants during the 45-minute tours.
Elizabeth Grant, director for learning and engagement at the museum, said the idea, which came from Casa de Venezuela, speaks to the need to find ways to serve different communities of Philadelphia.
“They are connecting us with a vibrant community and helping us teach the richness of our history and — with the outreach that this organization has — we expand our reach, embed that knowledge within our team, and even find people to work with and visit us.”
Guests can meet representatives from Casa de Venezuela and learn about the free citizenship classes in between tours.
5:30 and at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 19, Museum of the American Revolution, 101 S. Third St., 215-253-6731, amrevmuseum.org
Standing on the northwest corner of 18th Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway might be a bit cold these days, but you can now stay cozy at home and learn about Robert Indiana’s AMOR sculpture, thanks to the latest production from the Association for Public Art.
Robert Indiana’s AMOR (1998) is now featured as one of 79 audio pieces (some with video components) created by the association’s Museum Without Walls program. AMOR is only the second piece to be produced in English and Spanish. The first was for El Gran Teatro de la Luna by Rafael Ferrer, in 2017.
Caitlin Martin, media and communications manager for the Association for Public Art, said the decision to include both languages reflects the spirit in which Indiana created the sculpture.
“He saw the changing demographics of Philadelphia back then and wanted love to be all over the city and the world. So we found the support to make this a moment to connect with the Spanish-speaking population we have here.”
The AMOR audio is narrated by Fernando Méndez, Colombian journalist and longtime Philadelphian; the Rev. Dennis Gill, rector of the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul; Margot Berg, public art director of Philadelphia’s Office of Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy; and archival recordings of the artist himself, who died in 2018. The audio of Indiana came from unused clips from a previous interview with the artist about his LOVE sculpture.