47 Stories: On public transportation, people who might never find themselves in the same room are jostled together as they travel through diverse neighborhoods. Yet conversation is sparse, passengers rarely disembark at stops other than those they know well, and opportunities for connection, empathy, and adventure are missed. Artists Laura Deutch and Shira Walinsky had an idea for how to change that. During 2016, Laura and Shira served as artists-in-residence at Mural Arts Philadelphia’s Southeast by Southeast storefront, which offers programs and services to Burmese, Bhutanese, and Nepali refugee communities.
Reflecting on the challenges refugees face when trying to surmount lingual, cultural, and geographic barriers, the artists began to think about SEPTA’s 47 bus, a popular route running from far north to deep south Philadelphia. What if the bus could be used to highlight the city’s diversity, its long history of immigration, and the way these forces are so central to the identity and offerings of our neighborhoods? What if it could invite people to discover new parts of the city? Laura and Shira interviewed riders, residents, and businesses along the route, collecting images and quotations to install on the interior and exterior of the bus. They featured photographs of beloved shops, cultural attractions, and community centers. A brochure styled after a bus schedule explained the project, mapped sites, and directed people to a website hosting community soundscapes, interviews, and a rider-generated playlist. The bus encouraged people to step outside their comfort zones and consider how “we are all migrating together.”
May 23, 2017 marks the 32nd annual Arts + Business Council Awards Celebration, a major moment for milestones. Together with you, our “Partners in Imagination,” we’ll be honoring the exceptional leaders, innovators, partnerships and volunteers below, who work to make our region culturally vibrant and economically strong. To purchase ticket packages and individual tickets, please click here.