Jon Manteau

Artist’s Statement

Philadelphia Historical Artifacts

As a Philadelphian for over 40 years, it is nearly impossible to not be conscious of the rich history all around us; Philadelphia, “the birthplace of a nation”, our democracy and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (“Penn’s Woods”).

I first started to conceptualize this body of work while walking my Labrador in Penn Treaty Park, located along the banks of the Delaware River. The park and the items that washed up along its shoreline made me reflect on events that “may or may not” have occurred there. The site is historically significant as the location where William Penn “purportedly” signed his treaty with the Lenape Natives in 1683. The work in this exhibition represents my interaction with many aspects of Philadelphia’s history and mythology, its “facts and fictions”. From William Penn to the Founding Fathers, its violent past, such as the Anti-Catholic/Nativist Riots of 1844, the Civil War, the assassination of Octavius Catto in 1877, one of the first African-American activists, the ever-evolving landscape of the city and many of its famous and infamous persons, (whether born and bred here or passing through, contributors nonetheless). Its sports history, art history, Philly-centric culinary tastes, noteworthy or notorious events, whether homage and or laced with cynicism enrich the Philadelphia experience.

Nearly anything that I process as a native son has the “potential” to be a “Philadelphia Historical Artifact”.

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