Earlier this month I stumbled across the most wonderful bit of community art I have ever seen. I was walking with M in South Philly and we stopped to look into a store window that was full of white paper mache lanterns. It turned out that it was actually a studio space in the Fleisher Art Memorial, and the lanterns were in the final stages of preparation for a "night parade" that was going to happen that weekend!
George Ferrandi, the artist-in-residence at the Fleisher, had been working with the community for months making lanterns and developing a storyline for this parade. The entire project is called "Wherever There is Water." There were weekly workshops for volunteers to come and make lanterns for the parade (M and I went to the very last one, lucky!) and a choir had been practicing for months. I was so ecstatic that I found out about it right before it happened!
The Saturday night parade was incredible; there were almost 300 people processing down the streets of South Philly holding illuminated lanterns, many in the shape of animals. People came out of their houses to watch, many joined the parade, and there was just a wonderful sense of community and joy. I saw many of my own friends from different parts of the city, and I made new ones along the way.
I didn't get many photos of the parade, partly because I was in it, and partly because I knew I wouldn't be able to capture it properly on camera. But these are pictures of the workshop I went to with M, and the studio space pre-parade. Here's the Flickr group, with lots and lots of pictures. And here's a lovely video on Youtube (I'm there at 3:17, wearing bright green!):