For the 2017 West Park Arts Fest, 5 artist projects were included in the exuberant annual street festival, located in the Centennial District of West Fairmount Park on June 3rd. The artists included were Timothy Belknap, Claes Gabriel, Eugene Lew, Nekkia McClodden, Taji Ra'oof Nahl. The Fairmount Park Conservancy commissioned this project through an ArtPlace Grant. Project Website Fairmount Park Conservancy
Timothy Belknap created a large comet-like sculpture with moving eyes. Visitors were encouraged to interact with the piece by creating their own welcome flags that can be mounted onto the sculpture. The flags are inspired by the Statue of Liberty welcome gift to the US from France; the torch was first exhibited at the 1876 Exposition. Claes Gabriel exhibited six totem-like painted stretched canvas forms. Their electric color and meditative-like patterning will be a feast for the eyes. Eugene Lew organized a bell-ringing bicycle tour of the West Park and a wheelie competition. Bells and lights were available to cyclists interested in audible signaling & low light visibility. Tiona Nekkia McClodden presented an intimate multi-media installation that explores the complicated history of the sculpture “The Death of Cleopatra” by sculptor Edmonia Lewis which exhibited at the 1876 Centennial Exposition to much acclaim. Lewis was the first woman of African-American and Native American heritage to achieve international fame and recognition as a sculptor in the fine arts world. Taji Ra’oof Nahlcreated a site specific performance and installation at the historical Civil War Monument. It delved into the historical narratives of the site, the Avenue of the Republic, connecting to Nahl's long-standing concept, Defenders of the Republic.