Kensington
Healing Verse

Brand Identity  |  WEb DESIGN & Development |  Art Direction  |  PRINT & CUSTOM SIGNAGE

How do you promote a collective community artwork, and continue to encourage community participation after its installation?  Throughout 2021, Philadelphia Poet Laureate and LCSW, Trapeta B. Mayson, held poetry workshops residents of the Kensington neighborhood in Philadelphia. These workshops used poetry as a tool for sharing, listening, and reflection about community and daily life. The participants’ poems were then combined into group poem. This collective poem was transformed into a neon sign and lifted to the rooftop of 2400 Kensington Avenue to serve as a beacon of strength, hope, and healing for the residents of Kensington.

I crafted a cohesive identity that spanned across digital, print, and environmental touch points. This included a logo and visual identity, a microsite for the project, posters, custom graphics for the outdoor submission box, art direction for the project reel, and the design and layout of the neon sign itself. Documentation by WeFilm Philly.

The website for this project was featured on Typewolf as the Site of the Day.

Client

  • Mural Arts Philadelphia

ROLE

  • Design & Art Direction

Agency

  • Freelance

TEAM

  • Ryan Strand Greenberg: Curator
  • Trapeta B. Mayson: Lead Artist
  • Sky Neon: Sign Fabrication

website

Visual Identity

The logo is based on the concept that words from the community participants would fill in the blanks, per se, of the forthcoming collective poem. The tone of the project needed to feel hopeful and reverent to the serious subject matter, but not too solemn. Using ITC Garamond Narrow for the logo seemed like an appropriate choice, as it felt somewhat scholastic, but not overly friendly or juvenile.

Considering the project's end result would be a neon sign, I drew the color palette from the colors of the sky at dusk. Another motif I used to add texture was altered photography of the sky that had been blurred with grain added, to reference the atmosphere that would serve as a backdrop to the sign.

Website Design & Development

Community participation was central to the concept of this project, and we wanted to encourage community members and those outside the community to continue to craft and submit their own poems. I developed a microsite to not only promote and educate the public about the project during its life-span, but to provide an opportunity to for users contribute additional submissions. Using prompts crafted by Trapeta a custom form allows the site's visitors to write their own healing verse.

I designed developed the website in Webflow, and used custom code to create an animated grainy effect emphasizing the atmospheric nature of the project, and created headers with a subtle outer glow to reference the neon.

Visit live website here.

Custom Neon Sign & Print Collateral

Once the workshops concluded Trapeta used the workshop submissions to craft the collective poem. Due to budget concerns the neon sign needed to be set in an all caps, sans-serif typeface. Using the mono version of the the secondary typeface in the design system, Maison, I designed the neon sign, and provided specs for the fabricator to follow.

I also designed posters of 6 participants individual submissions, that we produced in a large quantity to deciminate to the workshop attendees. We also encouraged them to hang the posters in their windows further promoting the project and the voices of the community.

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Art Direction & Project Reel

Once the sign was installed we wanted to document it to promote the project well. Working with drone photographer and videographer WeFilmPhilly I provided art direction on the narrative we wanted the reel to achieve. Most importantly the sign needed to have a sense of place and be grounded in the community of Kensington. We also wanted to capture the sign's proximity to the train. The imagery of the El train serves as a poignant metaphor for the journey of healing. Watch the full reel below.