Northeast Times

Wire art represents city’s homicide victims

Re­mem­ber­ing those lost: Five loc­al artists, in­clud­ing Kar­en McLaugh­lin of Holmes­burg, have cre­ated 331 hand­craf­ted wire ves­sels to rep­res­ent the num­ber of murders that were com­mit­ted in Phil­adelphia in 2012.

Three hun­dred thirty-one.

It might not seem that large a num­ber, but it’s enorm­ous in terms of what it rep­res­ents — the num­ber of murders that were com­mit­ted in Phil­adelphia in 2012.

And vis­it­ors to the “One Year” ex­hib­it dur­ing the 2013 Fringe Fest­iv­al this month can lit­er­ally see how big that num­ber is. Five loc­al artists, in­clud­ing Kar­en McLaugh­lin of Holmes­burg, have cre­ated 331 hand­craf­ted wire ves­sels to rep­res­ent the city’s murders.

The sculp­tures will be set up to cast dy­nam­ic shad­ows against fab­ric back­drops in the Sanc­tu­ary at The Ro­tunda, 4014 Wal­nut St., when the ex­hib­it opens Sept. 7.

McLaugh­lin, along with East­ern Mont­gomery County res­id­ents Janice Hayes-Cha, Brenda How­ell, Ju­lie Mann and Kim­berly Mehler, are mem­bers of the Moth­ers’ Co­oper­at­ive in the Arts — Mama­CITA — and they made the ves­sels in part­ner­ship with the vi­ol­ence pre­ven­tion or­gan­iz­a­tion Moth­ers in Charge.

All Mama­CITA mem­bers are pro­fes­sion­al artists who are moth­ers. All Moth­ers in Charge mem­bers lost chil­dren to murder, McLaugh­lin said in an Aug. 29 phone in­ter­view.   

Scores of people helped to cre­ate the wire sculp­tures through artist-led work­shops in 2012.

When the ex­hib­it opens Sept. 7 and again on Sept. 21, there will be short per­form­ances of spoken word, singing and drum­ming. Some of the moth­ers who lost chil­dren will read po­etry about their chil­dren or their murders, McLaugh­lin said.

The idea is to reach the pub­lic con­scious­ness through emo­tion, she said. 

McLaugh­lin said Phil­adelphia murders have gone down more than 40 per­cent so far in 2013.

That stat fits in with the ex­hib­it, she said. 

“Our per­form­ance is about hope,” she said. “We’re go­ing in the right dir­ec­tion this year.”

Ad­mis­sion to “One Year” is free. Hours are 6 to 8 p.m. on Sept. 7-8, 12-15 and 19-20. Live per­form­ances are at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 7 and 21. ••

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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