‘Forgotten Philadelphia’ Conjures City’s Ever-present History

By Purnell T. Cropper | January 30, 2013

Nearly 50 people attended a gallery opening and book event for Forgotten Philadelphia, presented by Philadelphia Stories at Arcadia University’s Judith Taylor Gallery on Jan. 23. The project combines art inspired by 15 heritage sites, including Laurel Hill Cemetery and Divine Lorraine Hotel, with poems and short fiction that speculate on the stories behind these hidden treasures. View photos of the artwork and event.

Faculty Librarian Michelle Reale ’96,’99M, who was instrumental in bringing the art exhibit to Arcadia, contributed a short story titled “Pink Moon,” which was inspired by a circular form that appears in a mixed media painting of Tyler School of Art in Elkins Park, Pa., by Melissa Tevere. “It means a lot to me to bring something here that is relevant to so many people,” she said.

The project appealed to Reale in part due to her affection for the city and its surrounding area. “I like to look at old pictures beside contemporary pictures of certain sites, and I can just see so many years of history there. I like to think that projects like this, as small as they are, would be the impetus for people to revitalize and revisit old sites.” She also enjoyed the creative challenge.

In addition to taking in the exhibit and speaking with artists and writers, attendees heard an impassioned talk by Dr. Peter Siskind, Assistant Professor of History and Chair of the Department of Historical and Political Studies. He spoke about how works in the exhibit conjure the city’s ever-present history. “The past is relentlessly present,” he said of Philadelphia. “The past shapes the present in so many ways and never lets us forget it.”

Listen to Siskind’s remarks:

Forgotten Philadelphia is on view at Arcadia University’s Judith Taylor Gallery in Landman Library through Feb. 20. The hardcover book is available through psbooks.wordpress.com and amazon.com. 

Video by JoLynne Bremmer ’10