At the Urban Outfitters headquarters in Philadelphia’s Navy Yard, the work environment goes beyond a coffee machine and comfortable chairs in the employee break room.
Upon entrance into the public building of the headquarters at 5100 S. Broad St., visitors are struck by an amazing aesthetic display. High ceilings, live plants, koi ponds and a charming cafe make up the first floor, which primarily caters to the employees of Urban, who are on the floor in a design area creating the clothing that will be mass produced and purchased at stores like the Walnut Street location.
Not only is the building itself beautiful to look at, there is art on display constantly. “Seasons of Change,” an InLiquid Art & Design project, is the current art exhibit at Urban Outfitter’s headquarters. It will be on display until tomorrow, Oct. 3, free of charge.
The exhibit includes work from Tyler School of Art professors Nicholas Kripal and C. Pazia Mannella. The show encapsulates a human exploration of nature, with eccentric depiction of connections of humanity, passion and exploration. The exhibit takes up a prominent wall in the center of the main floor, and includes art varying from framed prints to mixed media sculpture.
Employees on their lunch breaks sat at nearby tables, taking in the creative compilation of artwork as they ate. Floor manager Ryan Joseph called the current exhibit “very provoking,” and noted that the exhibits are switched on a monthly basis.
Kripal described his pieces in “Seasons of Change” as different from his usual work, which is sculptural installation. He has built artwork in different places around the world, including Italy, New York City and Germany, and uses spatial elements and historical value of sites to create meaningful art concepts. His pieces in “Seasons of Change” are three prints made with real plant matter that he picked himself while working in Washington, titled “Northwest Impressions (1, 2, and 3).” The pieces utilize the natural color coming from the plants themselves.
“I’m a huge gardener,” Kripal said. “To grow your own art material is very exciting for me.”
These new pieces are a style that he said he is excited to continue working with, as a member of Second State Press, where he can use the printing technique such as that of “Northwest Impressions.” In accordance with the exhibit’s theme of a human connection to nature, Kripal said his goal is “to be able to print the cycle of the seasons.”
The work of Mannella varies from Kripal’s. A sculptural art form of the category fiber arts, it was the only piece of costume-like work in the exhibit, displayed on a mannequin. The intricate, high fashion based design of the piece, which was made with raw silk and stained paper, is used for inspiration amongst clothing designers. The colorful, eye-catching piece is titled “The Flowers I Make Do Not Have Scent.”
Other work in the exhibit includes digital collages, paint, glasswork, mixed media collages and sculptures. A display using world globes in sculpture, by artist Randall Cleaver, catches many passing glances and stops for closer inspection as employees bustled about their busy days.
Joseph, when prompted for his opinion on “Seasons of Change,” gestured in the direction of the globes on the display wall.
“I dig this section,” Joseph said.
Though perhaps not particularly familiar to the public as part of a company headquarters, the Urban Outfitters 5100 building is open to visitors during the day, and is likely to garner attention from those who are willing to trek out to the Navy Yard for the exhibit.
Erin Edinger-Turoff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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