Beginning with the story of Minerva Parker Nichols (1862-1949), an architect whose story has been lost to history, this program features several broad-based case studies that explore gaps, silences, and imbalances in the historical record and brings together archivists, curators, artists and activists to discuss the potential of archives as sites of community building and creative imagination.
Panelists include John Anderies, director of the John J. Wilcox, Jr. Archives at the William Way LGBT Community Center, Philadelphia; Katherine Sarwopeni Antarikso, an architect, activist-researcher and poet; Monet Lewis-Timmons, English PhD candidate and African American Public Humanities Fellow, University of Delaware; and Carol Stakenas, an independent curator, educator, and culture worker. The discussion is moderated by Heather Isbell Schumacher, a community organizer, and archivist at the Architectural Archives.
The discussion is followed by a light reception and private viewing of Minerva Parker Nichols: The Search for a Forgotten Architect in the Harvey & Irwin Kroiz Gallery, located in the lower level of the Fisher Fine Arts Library.
Minerva Parker Nichols: The Search for a Forgotten Architect tells the story of the first woman in the US to practice architecture independently. She was the subject of press coverage and won commissions nationwide, yet only a handful of her drawings survives, and she is rarely included in the story of Philadelphia’s built environment or broader historical assessments. Capping off a decade’s research by architectural historian and preservation planner Molly Lester (MSHP’12), the exhibition features a new series of documentary photographs by Elizabeth Felicella documenting over 30 of the architect’s extant buildings and raising timely questions about who, in the history of the built environment, is remembered, who is forgotten, and why. The exhibition was co-curated by Lester, Felicella, curator William Whitaker and archivist Heather Isbell Schumacher of the Architectural Archives.
Building Connections is presented by the Architectural Archives at Penn in partnership with the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL).
Minerva Parker Nichols: The Search for a Forgotten Architect and related events have been supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.
John Anderies is the director of the John J. Wilcox, Jr. Archives at the William Way LGBT Community Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He has also worked as a processing archivist at the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books, and Manuscripts at the University of Pennsylvania, and as Head of Special Collections at Haverford College. He is a board member of the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL), and is an organizer of the Pennsylvania LGBT History Network. John holds degrees from Baldwin-Wallace College Conservatory of Music (BM), Case Western Reserve University (MA), and Indiana University (MLS).
Katherine Sarwopeni Antarikso is an architect, activist-researcher and poet based in Philadelphia. She was born in Jakarta, on the island of Java in Indonesia, and immigrated to the United States in 1988. As an architect, she is interested in the designer’s role in advancing equity in the built environment, and is leading a task group to develop a framework for Designing for Equity. She combines her writing and activism to write poetry focusing on themes of migration, displacement, colonialism and authoritarianism and is the author of the poetry chapbook: The Accidental Immigrant and co-editor of the group poetry chapbook: Spacemaking—An Anthology of Poems and Reflections on Sanctuary. As an activist-curator for the Chronicling Resistance project at the Free Library of Philadelphia, she started an Oral History Archive project for the Indonesian diaspora because she believes that storytelling is a powerful medium for resistance and the stories of everyday people should come to light in the historical record. She performs traditional Indonesian dance with Modero & Company, is a member of the community-based Indonesian gamelan percussion ensemble, Gamelan Gita Santi, and is a founding member of Pejuang: Indonesian Social Justice Coalition.
Monet Lewis-Timmons is an English PhD candidate and African American Public Humanities (AAPHI) Fellow at the University of Delaware. She received her BA in English and African American Studies from Emory University in Atlanta. Her research focuses on the generational lineage of 19th century to the early 20th century Black women’s archives with a particular focus on the personal collection of educator and writer Alice Dunbar-Nelson. Through public humanities work, her research highlights the possibilities of Black women’s archives by prioritizing the intentional practice to preserve and redefine themselves through material objects. Her dissertation project will include an in-person exhibition at the University of Delaware showcasing the lifecycle of Dunbar-Nelson’s archive.
Carol Stakenas is an independent curator, educator, and culture worker based in Somerville, Massachusetts. She has commissioned and produced multidisciplinary public art, site-responsive exhibitions, and creative initiatives in New York City, Los Angeles, Boston, and beyond, all in service of strengthening the social fabric of communities through socially engaged art and transdisciplinary alliances. She is the artistic director/curator of Rosine 2.0, a community-driven art project using collective practices to explore harm reduction and healing in Philadelphia.
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