4 Pew Center Arts and Heritage grants awarded in Northwest Philly

 Yolanda Wisher, 2015 Pew Fellow. (Photo by Mark A. Palacio)

Yolanda Wisher, 2015 Pew Fellow. (Photo by Mark A. Palacio)

Two organizations and two artists based in Northwest Philadelphia have been awarded prestigious Pew Arts and Heritage grants.

Cliveden of the National Trust for Preservation was awarded a project grant to compare domestic life in the 1700s and the 1900s through the exploration of the kitchens inside Cliveden’s historic Germantown mansion. The group hopes to use architecture, design, and the technology of the times to understand the experiences of those enslaved and in service.

Historic Germantown was also awarded a project grant and will look at the role arts plays as a catalyst for community dialogue around race and class. The project will bring together historians and artists like Sonia Sanchez and Benjamin Volta to create a series of public art installations, community events and educational programs. 

Two fellows — Merián Soto of Mt. Airy and Yolanda Wisher of Germantown — were also awarded $75,000 grants.

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Soto’s career in performance spans over 40 years. In that time, she has focused on looking at the body and its relationship to consciousness. Her pieces work towards “a dance of the future, a dance of healing, transformation, and transcendence.”

Wisher is the founder and director of the Germantown Poetry Festival and recently published her first book. She said she has been treating poetry as her “side hustle” for her entire adult life.

Earlier this year she quit her nine-to-five job at the Mural Arts Program to pursue writing full time.

“I turned 39 and started thinking ‘how long will I keep doing this as my side thing,'” she said.

Wisher said she is looking to use the opportunity to work on her second book, do genealogical research and possibly working on an audio project.

Click here for a full list of the grantees. 

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