A young woman is pictured standing stoically, suitcase in one hand, yellow folder in the other, on the cream-colored banner dancing in the breezy shadow of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. "I" is for "immigrant," it proclaims.
Nearby, a pair of hands flatten a piece of paper and photo identification. "G" is for "Green Card."
And "A" is for "America," "B" for "Border," and "C" is for "Culture."
Created by Hudson Valley artist Wendy Ewald and 18 Northeast High School students in spring 2017, the 26-banner "Immigrant Alphabet" is in its second year on display in Philadelphia, this time in a new home at the Cherry Street Pier on the Delaware riverfront.
Each of the lettered signs represents a word and story from the students, who come originally from four continents, at the high school in one of Philadelphia's most diverse pockets.
The hope of the alphabet art is to add humanity to the discussion on immigration, said Megan Madison, public education manager of Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture, the nonprofit Arab arts and education organization that collaborated on the project with the students and Ewald.
"It's often an issue used to polarize people, and often talked about as if it's a numbers issue or with fear tactics," Madison said. "With the installation, what we've seen, even people with very extreme or differing opinions are able to come together because of the medium. It's art and it's by local youth, and people are able to connect."
The conversation around immigration is especially pertinent in Philadelphia, a leader in the "sanctuary city" movement, as the Trump administration continues to clamp down on new arrivals to the country.
More than a quarter of Philadelphians are either immigrants or U.S. natives with immigrant parents, according to a Pew Philadelphia Research Initiative study.
Last year, the art installation made its debut during Welcoming Week — a city celebration of immigrants, refugees, and people of all backgrounds — hanging from the windows of the Municipal Services Building.
This fall, the alphabet has also taken on a more mobile format: a book that's available at the Free Library, in some Philadelphia schools, and online, complete with transcribed interviews from the students.
"Some students are immigrants, some are refugees, some won a visa lottery — their experiences vary and it's important to show people that immigration doesn't just look one way," Madison said. "And now, instead of just banners that you can see in one place or online, you can read the student's stories, personalizing a very politicized issue."
"An Immigrant Alphabet" is on display at the Cherry Street Pier through June 2019. Here's a closer look at the display: