Philadelphia, PA — Moore College of Art & Design has received a 2020 Discovery Grant from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage (the Center) to launch a yearlong series of creative activities and projects with the Norris Square Community Alliance (NCSA) in Philadelphia.

The project, called “Exploring Our Neighborhoods: Norris Square,” will engage residents of all generations of the historic Puerto Rican Norris Square neighborhood in artmaking, skills-sharing and idea exchanges around sewing, pottery and painting. Support for the research and development of the project has been provided by the Center.

“This project with Norris Square Community Alliance, in one of Philadelphia’s most culturally rich areas, is an extension of Moore’s ongoing mission to champion creative expression as a means to connect communities,” said Cecelia Fitzgibbon, president of Moore College of Art & Design. “We are grateful to The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage for allowing us to explore the many possibilities, and we are excited to see how this important exchange of craft and ideas impacts the artistic trajectories of Norris Square residents, our participating artists and Moore students.”

Moore, the nation’s first and only historically visual art and design college for women, will use the Center’s grant to coordinate artist teams from the College, Norris Square community and Puerto Rico. The teams will create workshops and a weeklong camp where participants will explore and experience how art and design can democratize community and animate culture. NSCA staff members and stakeholders will be trained to become “resident educators” who will teach these skills to a wider neighborhood audience as a means of enacting and sustaining cultural traditions with a focus on historical and contemporary Puerto Rican craft models.


Founded in 1983 by local women to serve Philadelphia’s historic Puerto Rican Norris Square neighborhood, NSCA is a community development organization that focuses on early childhood, housing, youth and after-school services. It embraces the arts as an important vehicle for community development and cultural preservation.

“We are excited about beginning our partnership with Moore, a partnership that will help us preserve our culture and our roots in the community,” said NSCA Executive Director Michelle Carrara Morales. “We believe this project will add immense value for Moore students, and it’s an opportunity for members of the community to get engaged and transmit their knowledge to a new generation.”

The project coordinators from Moore are Nasheli Ortiz, chair and associate professor of Fashion Design, and Leah Comiskey, education and public engagement coordinator for The Galleries at Moore. Collaborators include Moore alum Betsy Casañas ’00, and Rosenda Álvarez Faro and Zuania Minier of Taller Malaquita, a women’s artist collective in Puerto Rico. Moore Art Education faculty, BFA students and graduate students trained in teaching community based art and design and in disciplines connected with sewing, printmaking and painting will help train Norris Square participants so that they can share and develop artmaking experiences within their community.

Read more about the grant here.

See the full list of new grantees here.