PlanPhilly

'Diligence' coming to Tacony Library as part of 21st Century Libraries Initiative

Five Philadelphia libraries are being overhauled thanks to a $25 million grant from the William Penn Foundation, and one bit of icing on the 21st Century Libraries Initiative cake is a Percent for Art component for each project.

On Wednesday Philadelphia artist Ben Volta presented “Diligence” to the Philadelphia Art Commission, planned for the interior of the Tacony Library on Torresdale Avenue. For the Tacony Library, which opened in 1906 as the city’s fourth Carnegie-funded branch, Volta looked to the past and consulted neighborhood residents and historians to help shape his artwork.

Volta proposed installing murals printed on cloth, featuring a monochromatic assemblage of historic images that he said, “imagines the industrial history of the neighborhood” - especially the Disston company, an institution which built up Tacony as a company town starting in the late 19th century. A Disston even donated the land where the library was built.

The artwork gives a “sense of evaporated history condensed on the walls,” Volta told commissioners. The largest artwork would be installed on a wall of the children’s room, a smaller piece would be tucked into an archway in the quiet room, and a frieze of saw blades rendered in Spirograph-esqe lines would tie the pieces into the main room.

Commissioner Natalie Nixon asked if Volta was satisfied with the soft resolution of the images, and he noted that they are all very old. It is a question of doing the best he can with what he has. Commission Chair Alan Greenberger said he thought the softness of the images worked and would create a better atmosphere. The collective response was enthusiastic final approval for the designs.

The Percent for Art budget for this project is $17,500.

    • 'Diligence' by Ben Volta, for Tacony Library Children's Room
      'Diligence' by Ben Volta, for Tacony Library Children's Room
    • Children's Room at Tacony Library, before renovation (file)
      Children's Room at Tacony Library, before renovation (file)
    • 'Diligence' by Ben Volta, for Tacony Library Quiet Room
      'Diligence' by Ben Volta, for Tacony Library Quiet Room
    • 'Diligence' freize by Ben Volta, for Tacony Library
      'Diligence' freize by Ben Volta, for Tacony Library
    • Illustration of 'Diligence' by Ben Volta, in remodeled main room of the Tacony Library
      Illustration of 'Diligence' by Ben Volta, in remodeled main room of the Tacony Library
    • Free Library - Tacony Branch
      Free Library - Tacony Branch
  • Previous
  • Next

About the author

Ashley Hahn, Contributor

Ashley Hahn is an independent writer with a background in historic preservation and city planning. She started Eyes on the Street for PlanPhilly in 2011 and was PlanPhilly's managing editor from 2015-2017. Ashley has lived in 12 zip codes that she can think of, including neighborhoods in Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, and New York. She is a Philadelphian by choice.

Contact Ashley via email or find her on twitter: @ashleyjhahn.



blog comments powered by Disqus

Article Information

Recent Comments on PlanPhilly

Powered by Disqus

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Which weekly emails would you like to receive?