Blog Press Kensington artists use creativity to reduce crime

PHILADELPHIA—An unusual group art exhibition, From Kensington With Love: Behind the Veil, wraps up its two-month tour of Kensington at New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC) on March 6 – 8. The exhibition highlights the diverse voices of Kensington residents, who share their stories, experiences, and visions through a tapestry of mixed media, painting and photography facilitated by artists Ken McFarlane, Katsí Miranda-Lozada, and Jerry Puryear.

The project is a collaboration between We CAN (NKCDC, Impact Services, and HACE’s joint Innovations In Community Based Crime Reduction) and Mural Arts, in partnership with Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services. It is supported by the City of Philadelphia Office of Anti-Violence.

McFarlane, Miranda-Lozada and Puryear hosted workshops for community residents in locations across Kensington, including Congreso, Julia De Burgos Elementary School, HACE’s Somerset Villas, the Kensington Storefront Porchlight Hub, NKCDC’s Orinoka Civic House, and Sankofa Freedom Academy Charter School.

“The work has been created to amplify the light and love that exist in Kensington and showcase the tenacity, healing, creativity, strength, hope, and beauty that permeate the community,” said Cass Green, who directs the We CAN partnership.

In 2018, We CAN was awarded a three-year, $1 million grant by the United States Department of Justice for Innovations in Community-Based Crime Reduction. With the support of police, city agencies, local universities, and community organizations, the partnership is working to reduce violent crime through social cohesion.

“This project built community cohesiveness by creating a positive group environment in a safe location,” said artist Jerry Puryear. “Participants gained self-pride and healing by completing a work of art. The project raised awareness of self, as well as community awareness.”

The show is open Friday, March 6, from 4:00–7:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, March 7–8, 1:00–5:00 p.m. at NKCDC’s Orinoka Civic House, 2771 Ruth Street, Philadelphia. There will be an artist’s talk at 6 p.m. on Friday, March 6. For more information, contact Pamela Draper— or 267-366-8293—or Cass Green at or 215-427-0350 x107.