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A Mothers Cooperative in the Arts


Garden of Possibilities at Einstein Medical Center

Posted by on May 27, 2018 in Events, Exhibitions, Press, Uncategorized | 0 comments

“Pink Dogwood” and “Yellow Fields” by Michelle Ciarlo-Hayes and “Seed Surprise” by Julia Way Rix 

On May 11, 2018 several works by MamaCITA artists were unveiled in the Ann Newman Maternity Center Lifter Building lobby and waiting room at Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia.

“The art work brings a warm welcome and is meant to reflect the compassionate care we provide, ” said Dr. David M. Jaspan, Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology, during the ceremony.

This commission was made possible by a generous gift from Maddy and Harvey Rovinsky, owners of Bernie Robbins Jewelers and longtime Einstein supporters.

Barry R. Freedman, President-CEO Einstein Healthcare Network, David Jaspan, DO Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Ruth Lefton, COO, Lawrence Reichlin, Chairman of Einstein’s Board of Trustees and Board of Overseers, Maddy Rovinsky, member of Einstein Healthcare Network Board of Trustees and art benefactor, Megan Grugan, MamaCITA artist, Julia Way Rix, MamaCITA artist, and Michelle Ciarlo-Hayes, MamaCITA artist in front of “Garden of Possibilities” by Megan Grugan.

Art Benefactor Maddy Rovinsky in front of “Garden of Possibilities” by Megan Grugan.



MamaCITA HR Press Images- Re.Collection 2014

Posted by on Jun 21, 2016 in Press | 0 comments

Images from MamaCITA’s 2014 group solo show – Re.Collection, and 360° collaborative member installation.
Cheltenham Center for the Arts. February, 2014.

Installation Photographs by Michelle Ciarlo-Hayes

Re.collection Installation3 Re.collection Installation2 Re.collection Installation1

Exhibit Photograph by Dana Scott


In art, mothers find way to deal with losing a child

Posted by on Apr 14, 2014 in Press | Comments Off on In art, mothers find way to deal with losing a child

At the Rotunda in West Philadelphia is an art installation of 331 wire sculptures to correspond to the homicides that occurred in Philadelphia last year. The collaboration involving mothers who lost children to violence will be part of the 2013 FringeArts Festival.
By Melissa Dribben, Inquirer Staff Writer
September 06, 2013

No one believes that they have found the cure for violence.

Certainly not the hundreds of women who earned membership in Mothers in Charge by losing their children tobullets and blades.

Certainly not Dorothy Johnson-Speight, who founded the group 10 years ago after her 24-year-old son, Kaahliq, was shot to death in Olney by a neighbor during an argument over a parking spot.

And certainly not the five mothers in the artists’ collective MamaCITA who came up with an idea for an exhibitto raise awareness about the city’s homicide rate.

Working together, though, these women figured that they might as well try to do something. To find yet another small way to push back against the crushing forces of anger, despair, and callousness that drive people to kill. If not to prevent another violent death, then at least to soothe and comfort those left behind.

Beginning Saturday, the results of their collaboration will be presented as part of the 2013 FringeArts Festival. Anart installation set beneath the shabby but soaring coffered dome of the Rotunda in West Philadelphia. Acollection of 331 hand-twisted wire vessels – one for each of the city’s homicide victims in 2012.

“I didn’t understand it at first,” says Johnson-Speight, recalling her reaction when the artists first proposed the project.

They would work together for one year, the artists said. They would invite at-risk children and grieving relatives and neighbors and strangers to twist yards of annealed 18- and 14-gauge steel wire into free-form shapes resembling some sort of cup or basket.

“A vessel? How does that connect to a lost child?” said Johnson-Speight. “But it does. I can’t explain it, but it does.”

As she gripped the wire and tried to bend it to her will, she said, she found herself thinking about Kaahliq the whole time. And she suggested that the artists offer workshops to at-risk girls and women in MIC programs.

The intense concentration required to work the wire has a meditative and therapeutic effect, said Kimberly Mehler, one of the MamaCITA artists.

“Art can move you through your emotions in two ways,” Mehler said. “It can help you feel them and express them, or it can help you get away from them when you need a break from your grief.”

MamaCITA – Mothers’ Cooperative in the Arts – bought supplies and put the exhibit together with $5,000 from the Leeway Foundation for Art and Change Grants and a good deal from American Wire, a local supplier of wire normally used for wrapping shipping pallets, said Janice Hayes-Cha, who helped organize the project.

“Wire is gratifying to work with,” she said. “It’s flexible, but it has a will of its own. You can try to wrestle it into ashape, but ultimately, you just have to go with it.”

An apt metaphor for any parent trying to shape a child’s future, she noted.

The vessels, Hayes-Cha said, “are just skeletons of people who aren’t here anymore. Each is unique. There is noway to make two alike.”

They are suspended against walls of translucent white fabric and cast shadows that grow longer as the daylight fades.

“The shadows are an important part of the art,” Hayes-Cha said. “They show that the perpetrator and the victim are always connected. Just as mother and child are always connected. And the corporal body and the soul.”

At the Saturday event, several mothers whose children were killed in Philadelphia will give spoken-word performances.

Marvella McDaniel, whose 21-year-old son, Erik, was knifed to death trying to break up a fight, will read her poem “Knowing, Not Knowing.” It ends:

If the sudden force of anger and rage

has stolen the bright future

of someone you love, then you know.

You know the shock, the absence

of goodbyes, the heart torn to pieces,

But you do not know if you can go on.

Neither the artists nor the members of Mothers in Charge expect the exhibit to lower the murder rate or inspire any epiphanies.

But it could happen, said Johnson-Speight.

After her son’s death, “I thought I’d talk to everyone who would listen about stopping the violence and it would stop,” she said. She soon realized she needed to take action.

Today, the organization works in prisons and communities and schools, teaches anger management, provides mentoring and job skills courses. It has expanded nationally, with chapters in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York.

“People see the 6 o’clock news and they don’t know what to do,” she said, looking up at the wall of twisted wire spirals, cones, cups, and baskets.

“Something like this could change someone’s life. Maybe it will make them want to write to their congressman and ask them to pass a bill requiring universal background checks. Or maybe it will make them want to mentor achild who has been written off. That’s how a culture of violence is changed,” she said.

“One little step at a time.”

If You Go

The antiviolence groups Mothers in Charge and MamaCITA will present an art exhibit and spoken-word performances as part of this year’s FringeArts Festival.

The exhibit “One Year” will be shown at the Rotunda, 4014 Walnut St., this weekend, and from Thursday to Sept. 15, and Sept. 19 and 20.

The performances, also at the Rotunda, will be presented at 6:30 p.m. Saturday and on Sept. 21.

Collaboration is the basis for anti-violence project, One Year, at the Rotunda

Posted by on Apr 14, 2014 in Press | Comments Off on Collaboration is the basis for anti-violence project, One Year, at the Rotunda

From The Artblog, Review by

September 16, 2013

—>Rachel’s post delves into a year-long anti-violence project in which artists of MamaCITA collective collaborated with Mothers in Charge to create a project to memorialize the deaths by homicide in Philadelphia in 2012. –the artblog editors——————–>

The twisted-wire vessels — 331 of them — are suspended from metal rods, with their shadows projected onto streams of white cloth behind them that cascade to the floor. The vessels’ dark wires create linear journeys of angles, curves, hurdles and loops, manifesting into intricate casings of sculptural form. Three hundred and thirty-one documented homicides took place in Philadelphia in 2012; 331 lives were lost. Three hundred and thirty-one people became a statistic.

Read full review on The Art Blog


Images to Soothe, Amy S. Rosenberg

Posted by on Apr 9, 2014 in Press | Comments Off on Images to Soothe, Amy S. Rosenberg

MamaCITA_Einstein_1 MamaCITA_Einstein_2 MamaCITA_Einstein_3   

Philadelphia Inquirer, September 28, 2012
Amy S. Rosenberg: “Images to Soothe”.
Article about the MamaCita collaboration- Beginnings, installed in the new Einstein Montgomery Hospital.

You might think that, waiting in a hallway for a family member to get out of surgery, or staring at the walls from your hospital bed, you’d welcome some interesting, engagingly diversionary artwork.

Daniel Day, director of Health Environment Art Services, is here to tell you that you would not.

Day, who has spent the better part of two years selecting art for the new Einstein Medical Center Montgomery, which opens Saturday in East Norriton, says research, like his instincts, is clear.

– Read full article

Honoring Each Victim, Yowei Shaw

Posted by on Apr 8, 2014 in Press | Comments Off on Honoring Each Victim, Yowei Shaw

BrendasHandsWHYY- NewWorks
Yowei Shaw: “Honoring each Philadelphia homicide victim with art”.
Radio interview with MamaCita members of the Leeway Art and Change Grant project- One Year.

Five local artists are working to memorialize each Philadelphian killed in 2012. But with 78 homicides already and the total growing more quickly than last year, they’re struggling to keep up.


It may be obvious that Philadelphia’s murder count is always growing. But it can still be surprising. Brenda Howell is a mixed-media artist, who’s keeping a close watch.


“Almost to an obsessive point where you’re checking once a week, every other day, and kind of hoping that the number doesn’t go up. But in a way, knowing that it’s not going to stop,” said Howell.

-From the interview transcript by Yowei Shaw

Press Archives

Posted by on Apr 8, 2014 in Press | Comments Off on Press Archives

Glenside News Globe Times ChronicleArticle on Kimberly Mehler’s Glenside Mural – by Jarreau Freeman,  July, 2014

Liberty City Press
Vessels Carry Message Article by Shiela Simmons, January 15, 2013

97.5 Ben FM
Woman of the Week with Marilyn Russell. Interview with MamaCITA members Michelle Carlo-Hayes and Heather Knopf discussing the Miss Representation screening and Represent Art exhibit.

PHL17- Eye Opener
The “One Year” art installation. An interview with Lauren Intindoli of PHL17/WPHL. Aired January 8, 2013.
Maleka Fruean: “Artists continue their work memorializing every Philadelphia homicide victim of 2012”. Continuing coverage by WHYY of the One Year art installation. December 2012

Philadelphia Inquirer
Amy S. Rosenberg: “Images to Soothe”. Article about the MamaCita piece- Beginnings, installed in the new Einstein Montgomery Hospital. September 2012

WHYY- NewWorks
Yowei Shaw: “Honoring each Philadelphia homicide victim with art”. Radio interview with MamaCita members of the Leeway Art and Change Grant project- One Year.

Philadelphia Inquirer
Daniel Rubin: “Art forged in the crucible of cancer”. Article highlighting member Janice Hayes-Cha. February 2011

Duquesne University News Room
Organics- Art Informed and Inspired by Nature. “Exhibit by Mothers’ Arts Cooperative Recognizes Women’s History Month”. March 2010

Philadelphia Inquirer
Portrait of an Artist. Highlighting MamaCita member, Heather Knopf.

Philadelphia Stories
Who Does She Think She Is? – “MamaCita Artists Celebrate Mother’s Day with Film, Food & Fine Art”. April 2009

Montgomery News
Who Does She Think She Is? – “MamaCita Artists Celebrate Mother’s Day with Film, Food & Fine Art”. April 2009
MamaCita in Manayunk – “Manayunk Mansion Tries Moms’ Art to Lure Buyers”. March 2009

Montgomery News
MamaCita in Manayunk – “Creative in a Downturn Economy”. March 2009

Daily Candy
“Sketchy Behavior”, Featuring MamaCita member, Rosemary Markowski. January 2009