Tiny Room for Elephants festival brings art, music and community

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Starting July 8, the artists will collectively paint and install for 10 days, culminating in a four-day festival.


Artist Alloyius Mcilwaine returns to paint at the Tiny Room for Elephants Festival at Cherry Street Pier / Photograph by BeauMonde Originals

When Cherry Street Pier opened in 2018, it not only reactivated a long dormant space, it also let the creative process shine with its public-facing studio setup. In addition to its ever-changing gallery space, the pier is home to two levels of artists’ workspaces made from converted shipping containers with large glass windows – so visitors can see how art is created and artists can reach new audiences.

So it’s the perfect setting for Tiny Room for Elephants to work magic. Starting Friday, July 8, the artist collective will take over Cherry Street Pier for 10 days of continuous painting and installation in the same space.

“You can expect to see graffiti, performance art, fiber art, abstract art, sticker art, NFTs, installations, and artwork you’ve never seen before. That’s the beauty of Tiny Room, you never know what’s coming up,” says YaYa Horne, co-founder of Tiny Room For Elephants.

Photograph by BeauMonde Originals

The inspiration for this year’s festival is ‘made with love and inspired by courage’, and if that sounds like Visit Philly’s Love + Grit podcast, the reminder is intentional – they’re one of the festival’s partners.

As the artists create, a live soundtrack – courtesy of some of the city’s most talented DJs, producers and musicians – will play, inspire and entertain. The process is free and open to the public most days (minus the 21st holiday), and you can listen to different sets of music each night. Here is the program of artists to browse:

In addition to daily live music and art, you can also get creative with a Sip & Paint session hosted by Flygirrl. There’s one for adults on July 15 (with a cash bar) and another for kids on July 24 (with juice boxes). Both require tickets, available on the Flygirrl website.

And now for the grand finale: once the artists have finished creating, the festival concludes with a four-day party from July 21-24. The premiere on July 21 requires an additional ticket, but the weekend is free and will include a chance to see the entire installation, plus more live music (including an all-day dance party on Saturday July 23 ).

The Tiny Room for Elephants festival ends with a four-day party / Photograph by BeauMonde Originals

The Tiny Room for Elephants festival will feature 43 artists, some of whom are returning. After a hiatus due to the pandemic, the collective act of creating together and inspiring each other is more than ever welcome.

“I felt like my biggest heartache of the pandemic was losing Tiny Room for Elephants. You know, the anticipation was there, I already had a concept ready. So when I received the invitation, the excitement flooded me, of course,” says artist Marisa Velázquez-Rivas. Alloyius Mcilwaine, known on Instagram as Cultures Clothing, confirms: “I am so thrilled to be back. … I missed the camaraderie.

The Tiny Room for Elephants Festival kicks off July 8 and runs through July 24 at Cherry Street Pier, 121 North Columbus Boulevard.