Ellen Tiberino Provides Community Focused Art with a "Just Do It" Attitude!

Article written by Gigi McGraw on behalf of Global Philadelphia Association

Ellen Tiberino comes from a family of talented artists whose achievements are as vast as their legacy is strong in the West Philadelphia/Powelton Village area. The only daughter of the late pioneering artists, Ellen Powell-Tiberino and Joseph Tiberino, creativity is in Ellen’s blood. Her strong ties to the West Philadelphia community are not only reflected in her art, but in her choice to remain in the neighborhood and use her creative skills to unite and engage residents of various ages and artistic abilities.

In 2005, Ellen started teaching children mosaics and quickly realized how much she enjoyed working in that medium. Already an artist in her own right, she decided to take on mosaics as her primary discipline. Additionally, Ellen was active in her community and decided that she wanted to start working with the elderly because they offered a wealth of knowledge. She said, “When an old man passes away, a library burns to the ground.” Ellen decided to use mosaic arts as a way to preserve, document, and share the stories of her community.

Ellen is the recipient of a five-month residency with the West Philadelphia Neighborhood Time Exchange, a collaboration with People’s Emergency Center Community Development Corporation (PECCDC) and Mural Arts. She recently facilitated a 12-week, intergenerational mosaic arts workshop with free sessions, open to all West Philadelphia residents. The program culminated in a gallery exhibit that took place on Friday, July 13, 2018, and was well attended by members of the West Philadelphia community. The mosaic artwork displays addressed issues that were important to the collaborating artists and spoke to Ellen’s wish to be of service to others.

When asked if Ellen considered herself an artist and an activist, she stated that she believes there is no separation between the two if you are a real artist. “If you just paint pretty pictures, that is a nice hobby,” she said. When it comes to art and uplifting the community, Ellen continued, “I’ve always seen art make things better. I would say get out there and just do it."