Gods and Goddesses

The One Art Community Center hosted events celebrating femininity and masculinity.

One Art Community Center owners Malaika Hart Gilpin (left) and Ewan Gilpin stand in front of a mural during Goddess in the Garden.

On Saturday, the One Art Community Center hosted Goddess in the Garden, an event curated by Xola Zuri-Tumaini, 32, from West Philadelphia. The event celebrates divine feminine energy by honoring African Goddesses and female ancestors, through performances, rituals, workshops, and vendors. 

“We try to remember our ancestors, to honor our elders, and to be respectable youth,” Zuri-Tumaini said. “We try to bring all the generations together.”

Malaika Hart Gilpin, 45, from West Philadelphia and her husband, Ewan Gilpin, are the co-founders of the center, which they opened on 52nd Street near Media in 2001. 

“We often call ourselves an urban eco-arts village,” Hart Gilpin said. “We’re all about uplifting our community and really bringing holistic healing in whatever way we can.”

Zuri-Tumaini chose this year to honor her grandmother and Yoruba goddess Yemaya, the mother of all.

“A lot of times growing up, we don’t get to know about the African goddesses,” she said. “So just to have that reflection of yourself and to see yourself in that way [is important].”

Hart Gilpin said her favorite part of the event was the healing aspect and stressed the importance of seeing healers of color.

“That is really empowering for us to see people that look like us doing this kind of work,” she said.

To balance the weekend, Zuri-Tumaini created the Gods in the Garden event to celebrate divine masculinity and men who uplift their communities, which took place on Sunday at the Life Do Grow urban farm on 11th and Dauphin streets.

Life Do Grow worker Daekweon “Chuck” Walker, 23, of North Philadelphia, said he was excited to host Gods in the Garden for the first time at the farm.

“This space gives us the opportunity to give everybody a chance to be appreciated,” Walker said.

At the event, vendors sold jewelry, food and cultural items, and many attendees dressed in traditional African clothing to celebrate their culture and ancestors.

Khamuo Heru, 43, of South Philadelphia, participated in the ceremony as one of the drummers, helping Xola with her Gods and Goddess in the Garden events.

“She saw the importance of honoring our elders and the young, recognizing our commitment and contribution to our community,” Heru said.

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