Social Practice Lab: Callowhill Sub Station

Google Maps of Callowhill Substation - Captured by Nancy Chen
I began the Social Practice Lab retreat with an open mind ready to meet new people and spend time in the Chinatown North neighborhood. My initial idea was written quickly. I had identified the archways under the Reading Viaduct as a possible site for a public work but my preliminary idea was very general. I was glad to hear that we did not need to stick to a preconceived plan and that the Social Practice Lab provides the time and space to develop the work the with Asian Arts initiative and the Chinatown North Community.

During the retreat we were guided on a tour of the community and the PECO sub station located in Chinatown North was identified as a possible site. Before the retreat I was not expecting to draw from my own identity and history. I am a decedent of Alessando Volta, the Italian physicist who invented the first battery and I have often been fascinated by electricity and the underlying networks that power cities and communities. Moving forward I look to draw inspiration from this site and set out to explore ideas of electricity, energy and light.

I plan to set up weekly workshops with youth at the Asian Arts Initiative in the Spring of 2013. I feel that I  have zeroed in on a possible site, and I am excited about a possible topic for exploration, but I still look forward to the collaborative design process shaping the work.

Google Maps of Callowhill Substation - Captured by Nancy Chen
What is the Social Practice Lab? Asian Arts Initiative's Social Practice Lab commissions and supports the work of creative individuals and organizations in our neighborhoods of Chinatown and Chinatown North in Philadelphia. The goal of our Social Practice Lab is to combine artistic excellence and innovation with building relationships, encouraging neighborhood development and effecting positive change within the community. We invited artists, urban planners, community organizers, designers, and creative thinkers from all sectors--locally, regionally, and nationally--to propose public art projects and initiatives that engage with and enliven our community. The selected projects will be a part of a network of ongoing, year-round projects, supported by an advisory board of experienced social practitioners and local community activitists, and by the infrastructure of Asian Arts Initiative.

National Advisory Committee: Aimee Chang, Blanton Museum (TX) Edgar Arceneaux, Watts House Project (CA) Andrea Bowers (CA) Rick Lowe, Project Row Houses (TX) Pepon Osorio (PA) Meredith Warner (PA) Rise Wilson, The Laundromat Project (NY) Sue Bell Yank, Hammer Museum (CA)
2012-2013 Artists: Anula Shetty and Michael Kuetemeyer Ben Volta Colette Fu Jong Kyu (Dave) Kim Laura Deutch, Lee Tusman, Kathryn Sclavi, and Katya Gorker Steven Parker Yowei Shaw

Link to Asian Arts Initiative