A Meditation on Memory: Visually Mapping Fairhill

A Med Blog Slider 2016x

New art project will map a people’s history of the Fairhill neighborhood

April to September 2016

Fairhill Sci Target

The Fairihill neighborhood

A Meditation on Memory: Visually Mapping Fairhill is a socially-engaged public history and art place-making project funded by Philadelphia LISC in which a set of six new nontraditional historical markers will be made and installed in the Fairhill neighborhood in collaboration with community members.

Using information from Taller Puertorriqueño’s archives, oral histories, and intimate dinners with Fairhill community members, public historian/artist Erin Bernard and artist José Ortiz Pagán will document and capture these stories in site-specific markers and a sculptural wall map. The map will be the centerpiece of Taller’s new building, El Corazón Cultural Center and a guide to the area.  All of Meditation’s work and documentation throughout the year will inform the History Truck’s comprehensive exhibition of the Fairhill neighborhood, opening in June 2017 at El Corazón.

All voices and memories, young and old, matter. A Meditation on Memory: Visually Mapping Fairhill connects people to their vibrant history and introduces visitors to the area.

Partnering with the History Truck is the Bobcats of Fairhill Elementary School (as organized through Pepón Osorio’s reForm project), Fairhill Apartments youth residents, and Taller’s Youth Artist Program. These voices will directly inform design choices and suggest placement for some of the sculptures so that the use of these markers can match the needs of Fairhill’s youth

Please contact Erin and José if you want to be part of the project at phillyhistorytruck@gmail.com.



Public historian and artist Erin Bernard operates the Philadelphia Public History Truck, a mobile museum.  The History Truck creates collaborative exhibitions with people who live, work, and play within Philly’s places and spaces.

The History Truck presented Manufacturing Fire (2013-14) about postindustrial textile mill fires and activism within the neighborhood of East Kensington,

Erin Bernard

The markers are based on information from conversations using oral history and intimate dinner sharings with Fairhill community members.

and They Say They Gonna Build (2014-15) about Temple University’s history of expansion in juxtaposition with North Philly community building efforts. In June 2016, History Truck will present the culmination of its 2015-16 season in Chinatown/North-Callowhill-Chinatown with the exhibition A Houseless Museum, a month-long residency within the Asian Arts Initiative’s Pearl Street Storefront focused on the history of homelessness and notions of home.

The History Truck has received many awards, including the 2016 Outstanding Project of the Year Award from the National Council of Public History as well as a 2015 John Andrew Gallery Community Action Award from the Greater Philadelphia Preservation Alliance and the Best In Real Life Project of the Year at the 2014 Philadelphia Geek Awards. Most recently, Bernard exhibited at the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania and was published in 2015 editions of Exhibitionist and Art & the Public Sphere. Bernard is a Senior Lecturer in Museum Studies at the University of the Arts, Adjunct Professor of History at Moore College of Art and Design, mother of two, resident of South Philadelphia, and a Temple University alumna. She believes that all people deserve to choose how they wish to be remembered.

José Ortiz-Pagán’s work establishes a conversation about post-industrial systems in the tropics and colonies and how this has affected the way we approach and trade time. He sees a common thread within higher economic systems and displacement, migration being one of the most important phenomena inherent to this co-relation.

Ortiz-Pagán has shown in prestigious exhibitions such as the 4th Polygraphic Triennial of San Juan, International Biennial Print Exhibit: 2014, and 2014 New American Paintings Juried Exhibition-in-Print to name a few. Ortiz-Pagán has exhibited his work internationally including exhibitions in the following countries: Argentina, Italy, Taiwan, Puerto Rico, USA and the Dominican Republic.

José Ortiz-Pagán studied at the University of Puerto Rico receiving a BFA in 2009, and in Rome and Philadelphia at Temple University Tyler School of Art, receiving an MFA in 2011. He was presented the Cindi Royce Ettinger Scholarship and the Carlos Marichal Award on Printmaking, and his work has been part of the Knight Arts Challenge through Taller Puertorriqueño.

About Philadelphia LISC:

Philadelphia Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) is a catalyst for community change, working with partners to strengthen neighborhoods and improve the lives of residents. Philadelphia LISC combines corporate, government, and philanthropic resources to help community-based organizations revitalize underserved neighborhoods. Since 1980, Philadelphia LISC has invested $390 million to build or preserve 8,075 affordable homes and apartments and develop 1.8 million square feet of retail, community, and educational space.

Philadelphia LISC is the local office of LISC, a national nonprofit community development organization that has invested $14.7 billion in 30 cities across the United States.

Lisc Philadelphia