Artist and Social Practice Innovator’s Big Idea to Never Eat Alone.

For a little over three years, sculptor and found-art artist, Pedro Ospina, has been the main curator and artist-in-chief at The Open Kitchen Sculpture Garden located in the Norris Square section of North Philadelphia. The garden is an eclectic mix of trees and shrubbery with a host of repurposed items crafted into one-of-a kind works of art.

Pedro shared that the inspiration behind the garden came to him because he didn’t like to eat alone. He imagined an open space where people from the community could eat together and create art to beautify an abandoned patch of land in their neighborhood. Pedro presented a proposal to the Norris Square Neighborhood Project with this idea of tying social eating and art making into community building and revitalization. Pedro’s idea not only grew, it bloomed!

He says the space is always growing, always changing. “I welcome all people coming and helping out. We accept volunteers to maintain the space, cook, or donate materials.” Pedro goes on to say that he appreciates all of the above-mentioned contributions, but donating time is the most valuable of all.

Future goals for The Open Kitchen Sculpture Garden include a youth vocational program. Pedro believes the space is perfectly set-up for people to be able to teach people.  He explains that being able to take trash and litter that once cluttered the land and turn it into sculptures and other artwork teaches essential skills like problem-solving, carpentry, and enforces sustainability practices. Having the backdrop of food and positive social gatherings help to build a feeling of home and harkens back to the old traditions of the family table as a place where family values were instilled.

Pedro says the community is very protective of the space and he is always surprised to see who will show-up. “Sculptors, painters, poets, singers. That is the beauty of art... art is not only one thing,” he says. “The garden itself is an art piece.”

Pedro concludes that he is seeking to create a place for people to connect, create and leave their mark.

The Open Kitchen Sculpture Garden is located at 2241 North Philip Street. You can join Pedro and fellow artists and community members at the open potluck Thursdays, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., as weather permits.

Article written by Gigi McGraw on behalf of Global Philadelphia Association