In 2005, Won and I accepted invitations separately to attend a small graduate school in the arts just outside Detroit, Michigan. During our two years we worked with 150 invited guests (students) on campus who came from 33 countries to study in 10 disciplines. The school, Cranbrook, has no classes and no professors. Each day is spent intensely making and questioning art through process and materials. Won studied fiber and I studied ceramics. Here, we realized the important connections between language and objects.
In wasn’t until we were nearly approaching graduation in 2007 that we actually met. In such a small program everybody knew each other. Won lived on campus and was very popular but I rarely left my studio. Her work, what might look like cosmic universes, dealt with the relationships between people. My own pieces dealt with material and language, semiotics. Our meeting, over a few short months, quickly evolved and within a few months we found ourselves moving to Philadelphia. Jobs, residencies, and many other opportunities took us abroad over the next 7 years but we kept coming home to Philadelphia. We bought a house in the city, married in 2010, and finally settled in 2014 after growing tired of traveling.
My Philadelphia Story is a joint collaboration stemming from lots of late night conversations. Our time spent in airports left us feeling that they were the most boring places on earth. We wanted to create a piece of art that would give passerby’s something to do while waiting for a flight. When we decided the best way to introduce visitors to Philadelphia was through the words of people living here, everything became very easy.
The experience of being entrusted many with so many objects and stories has been a truly humbling experience. The people herein whom we met over the last two years are now amongst our closest friends. We truly thank them for being part of this project.
In our box you’ll find a leather thimble. I gave this to Won very late one night while she was working on her thesis piece in grad school. The endless hours spent pushing a stitching needle through fabric left her finger raw. I would go help her when I had the chance. The pencil sharpener I inherited from my great grandmother. She picked it up in the late 50’s when traveling through Asia. It has come to represent my love of handmade things, language or the act of writing, and a more than a few things Asian.
We would especially like to thank the following people for helping us to raise awareness of the project and collect objects: Craig Kaplan, Samantha Melamed, Hiroe Hanazono, Miss Joy, and Marie Elcin.
Special thanks to Savannah Hudicka for helping with the construction of the wood panel.
Special thanks to Jun Lee and Mirae Lee for photographing objects.
Special thanks to Matt Bender for photographing the construction of the work.
Special thanks to Sebastien Derenoncourt for developing the website.
Special thanks to everyone at the Philadelphia Office of the Arts, Culture and Creative Economy, and the staff at the Philadelphia International Airport.
Best wishes, M&W