Monday, March 18, 2013

PIFA Comes to the Library Company for Visual Resources

This spring, the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA) will bring together more than 150 partners in the arts for a month-long celebration of the city’s cultural life. With a “time machine” as the inspiration and a general theme of traveling through history, many PIFA participants have recognized the Library Company as an ideal place to research their productions.

If She Stood tells the story of the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society, a multi-racial collective of women formed in 1883 which fought to end slavery, protect the lives of newly freed people, and promote causes such as literacy and nutrition. For the production, playwright and director Ain Gordon and filmmaker Nadine Patterson researched the Library Company’s holdings in 19th-century African American and Women’s history. Our daguerreotypes of unidentified women were included in promotional materials. The accompanying exhibition, Freedom, Fire, and Promiscuous Meetings: The Philadelphia Community Lyceum, will include reproductions of materials from our collection, such as J. C. Wild’s 1838 lithograph Destruction by Fire of Pennsylvania Hall.

Where Heaven’s Dew Divides takes its name from an 18th-century Methodist prayer and focuses on the importance of religion for Philadelphia’s African American community during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Mixing dance forms, improvised vocalization, video projection, and original music and song, the production aims to capture the religious fervor and antislavery activism of early African American churches. Performers and choreographers Germaine Ingram and Leah Stein also conducted research in the Library Company’s collections and used images of key religious figures such as the Rev. Richard Allen for promotional materials. Visual materials from our holdings are also likely to be included in the performance as projected images.

If She Stood will be performed at the Painted Bride Art Center from April 26 to 28 and May 3 to 5. The accompanying exhibition will be on view at the Painted Bride from April 5 to May 18. Where Heaven’s Dew Divides is at the Kimmel Center from April 17 to 19.

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