Philadelphia Inquirer on Opening of Welcoming Week
Philadelphia’s Welcoming Week Alphabet: ‘B’ is for Border, ‘D’ for Dreamer
September 15, 2017 | Jeff Gammage, The Philadelphia Inquirer
Jeff Gammage reviews the installation and speaks with artist Wendy Ewald and Northeast High School students.
For a group of new-to-America students at Northeast High School, the letter “C” doesn’t stand for Cat.
It stands for Culture. And “D” is for Dreamer, “M” for Memory, “V” for Visa.
You can bet that “B” doesn’t stand for Build the Wall.
The Immigrant Alphabet — printed on 26 big banners now set on the glass walls and windows of the Municipal Services Building in Center City — forms the heart of an eye-catching outdoor art installation that distills the challenges, hopes, and losses encountered in coming to a new country. Even the background colors are symbolic, white to suggest newness, blue for loneliness.
It’s a signature project of Welcoming Week, a city celebration meant to forge bonds among neighbors and cast Philadelphia as an open, embracing community for immigrants, refugees, and people of all backgrounds. But what for four years had been a pleasant, low-key cultural festival opened Friday with a new urgency amid the nation’s contentious debate over immigration.