Across Philadelphia, extreme heat disproportionately impacts low-income communities, often communities of color, an inequity that influences their health, safety, and daily lives. Our Heat Response project spent two years engaging community members in Fairhill, Grays Ferry, and Southeast Philadelphia to create public art that addresses the question: “Why should we care about urban heat and what can we do about it?” A team of four local artists, supported by nationally renowned artist Eve Mosher, used public art to engage residents and fight back against environmental racism through art, conversation, and community building.
Participants expressed how urban heat disrupts their lives and how much joy there can be in coming together to creatively address climate change. Greening our neighborhoods can improve health, cultural preservation, community cohesion, and climate resilience. For more information about our process, outcomes, and reflections, visit our project report.
Eve Mosher is a nationally renowned artist who will be supporting the four local Philadelphia-based artists.
Acutely aware of the ecological and climate devastation we are witnessing, she has turned her creativity towards creating space for grappling with radical truth about our contemporary moment and for engaging in the complexity of emotions related to that truth. Within this space, she also creates opportunities for radical imagination of future possibilities. Creatively communicating the climate emergency since 2007, she reached a breaking point in the fall of 2018 which has brought about her own truth and radical imagining of the role of creativity in a rapidly changing world. None of the previous experience, accolades, press or degrees have adequately prepared her for the moment we are in.
Linda Fernandez is a visual artist and educator whose work addresses inequities in public spaces and is passionate about the connection between the arts and public service.
Fernandez is a founding member of Amber Art & Design, an artist collective based in Philadelphia that designs experiences to allow for relationship and trust building, upending traditional frameworks of community input processes with the goal of creating a more radically just and equitable society.
Her commitment to community-led change can be seen in the Hecho en Philly project, a public market to showcase and promote local vendors that she co-created, and in her work encouraging story sharing and collecting ideas from nearby neighbors to guide the redesign of the Mander Recreation Center in Strawberry Mansion and the Graffiti Pier along Delaware River
Her varied professional background also includes serving as a teacher in a North Philadelphia charter school, as a teaching artist throughout the city and as an art program director in a community center in Nicaragua. Fernandez holds a bachelor’s degree in art education from Temple University and a master’s in public administration from the Baruch College. A Philly resident for 20 years, Linda has worked in almost every city neighborhood and will serve as the Heat Response Artist for the Fairhill neighborhood.Keir Johnston
Keir Johnston is a community practice public art creator who has spent more than two decades elevating social issues that impact communities of Color through public art.
He painted his first mural as a teenager while a student at California State University at Northridge, an experience that fostered an appreciation for the collaborative creative process as well as public art’s ability to affect viewers from all walks of life.
Johnston has helped guide diverse populations ¬– including incarcerated youth, prisoners serving life sentences, elderly groups, elementary and high school students, and those with disabilities – in mural production, and has worked with Mural Arts Philadelphia to create Colorful Legacy, Remembering a Forgotten Hero and The Color of Your Voice.
A founding member of Amber Art & Design, Johnston has served as the artist-in-residence for The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The National Museum of American Jewish History, Mural Arts Philadelphia, The Village of Arts and Humanities, and University of Chicago’s Place Lab and Living Arts of Tulsa, among others. In 2019, Johnston took part in a 114-mile walk across Puerto Rico. The “learning journey,” titled Sin Cita, offered members of Amber Art & Design an opportunity to gather feedback and refine the collective’s approaches to driving positive change through art.
Born in Massachusetts and raised in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, Johnston is the Heat Response Artist for the William Cramp Schoolyard and the Jose Manuel Collazo Park in Philadelphia’s Fairhill neighborhood.
Jenna Robb is an artist, designer and educator who builds immersive curricula and learning tools that promote collaboration and creative problem solving in classrooms and on the playground.
Working with the nonprofit ASAP!, Robb has implemented her inclusive teaching methods in classrooms throughout Connecticut as part of the organization’s Metamorphosis Project. In Philadelphia, Robb reimagined the outdoor play area at Ben Franklin Elementary School in the Lawncrest neighborhood. In partnership with another artist, Robb developed and installed large scale interactive math graphics that foster exploration of spatial relations, algebra and geometry through playful learning. A Rhode Island School of Design graduate, Robb pursues a personal artistic practice and has been featured in exhibitions at Philadelphia Mausoleum of Contemporary Art (PhilaMOCA), Cherry Street Pier and Space 1026, among others. She is the co-founder of CRUSH Studio in Philadelphia, where she conceives and constructs unique prints and wearables under a slow-fashion ethos. A Philadelphia resident for more than 12 years, Robb is the Heat Response Artist for the Grays Ferry neighborhood.
José Ortiz-Pagán is a visual artist, curator and cultural organizer who has a deep passion for community-based art projects.
Originally from Puerto Rico, Ortiz-Pagán developed his creative style first as a young street artist. Today, he works to visually represent and celebrate various cultures’ traditions and experiences. Much of his practice focuses on the narratives that arise from the migrational process and how it impacts the collective imaginary, of which environmental health has been a key issue.
In recent years, Ortiz-Pagán has worked with various institutions to promote cultural life in neighborhoods throughout South and North Philadelphia, including the Fleisher Art Memorial’s Bring Your Own Project (BYOP), which was supported by the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage. He is the co-founder of Colectiva Clara, which creates and sources handcrafted products traditionally used for healing and prayer. Currently, he is working with nonprofit Taller Puertorriqueno on its Memorializing Fairhill placemaking initiative that is using public art to deepen community relationships.
Ortiz-Pagán fell in love with the City of Brotherly Love when he moved here in 2009 to attend Temple University’s Tyler School of Art, where he received his master’s degree in printmaking and sculpture. He will be working as the Heat Response Artist for the Southeast Philadelphia neighborhood, anchored by the Southwark School.
- Anchor park: Jose Manuel Collazo Park & William Cramp Elementary School
- Residents within a 10 minute walk: ~14,701
- Heat index: 4.4 degrees hotter than average city temp.
- Artist Leads: Linda Fernandez and Keir Johnston, Amber Art and Design
- Community Lead: Charito Morales
- Anchor park: Lanier Playground
- Residents within a 10 minute walk: ~12,250
- Heat index: 1.7 degrees hotter than average city temp.
- Artist Leads: Jenna Robb
- Community Lead: Tyrique Glasgow and Phyllis Brennen
- Anchor park: Southwark School
- Residents within a 10 minute walk: ~21,247
- Heat index: 1.6 degrees hotter than average city temp.
- Artist Leads: José Ortiz-Pagan
- Community Lead: Gibran Medina and Sulay Sosa