Made In America’s Cause Village

Made In America Festival grabs headlines each year with its sensational performances, Philadelphian spirit, and tasty grub. But, what some people are missing is its dedicated commitment to philanthropy.

Made In America Festival grabs headlines each year with its sensational performances, Philadelphian spirit, and tasty grub. But, what some people are missing is its dedicated commitment to philanthropy. Each year, 20+ charities participate in Cause Village, the festival’s philanthropic footprint and hub for social action. Cause Village has an extremely widespread representation of charitable causes, including criminal justice reform, female empowerment, youth development, LGBTQ+ rights, financial literacy, gun violence prevention, and more. Each charitable purpose is represented in the Cause Village sign–a beautiful (and Instagrammable) art piece with each letter thoughtfully painted by an artist and dedicated to a cause of his or her choice.

On June 7th, Roc Nation hosted the annual painting of the Cause Village sign featuring local Philadelphia artists. Without further ado, let’s see a few letters that we’re sure will be popping up all over your feed Labor Day weekend!

Terrance Vann

Terrance Vann’s long artistic journey stretches from humble beginnings as a graffiti writer to becoming an award-winning muralist and fine artist. Known under the moniker TERRANCEISM, his work depicts surrealist snapshots of life that he aims to use as creative solutions to complex societal issues. Vann is behind the “C,” representing clarity in an effort to deblur the lens of a politically nebulous nation.

What was your thought process while painting your letter?

While I was painting my letter, I felt inspired to have a fresh and different perspective because I had never painted on something like this before. The whole process has been exciting, plus the vibes felt so creative which gave me extra juice to bring my letter to life. Projects like this that empower creatives show you how art can really bring people together to shine light on different causes that affect our lives.

What are you looking forward to most at the festival?

I’m really looking forward to seeing all the letters of the sign assembled together in person. A lot of talented artists gave it their all and I think people will be blown away! Plus the line up is crazy! So many artists I’ve been wanting to see all in one place, so I’m hype to be there to take in the entire experience

Candice Lee Smith

Candice Lee Smith is an independent artist engaged in a public, commercial, and studio practice. After receiving her bachelor’s and BFA degrees, Candice became a visual art teacher and creator of the art-based youth empowerment program called Freedom Arts. Smith’s “A” is an extension of that project and inspired by the Martin Luther King quote, “[We] will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like almighty stream.”

What was your thought process while painting your letter?

It was really exciting to create my letters alongside other incredible local Philly artists. I was especially struck by how each letter is so unique and individual, and how each artist took a totally different approach to representing his/her selected causes. For me, it was really important to create pieces that were visually appealing from up close and from a distance. This pushed me to use vibrant colors and repetitive shapes to build up patterns; in a way flooding my letters with color and texture. I think this formal approach lent itself to the importance of many voices coming together and building up so they may be heard.

What are you looking forward to most at the festival?

I can’t wait to see the Cause Village sign assembled and all the artists’ work come together. I’ve seen pictures of the Cause Village tent in the past, and I think this year’s installation is going to be so much more impactful.

Mikal Gibson 

Mikal Gibson aka “The Art Bully” is a self taught contemporary artist. His “U” is meant to depict the unity of minds, souls, and spirits to restabilize the world. He is known for telling visual stories of passion, pain, and determination through pop culture imagery and abstract figures.

What was your thought process while painting your letter?

My thought process is pretty much the same every time I start a new project. My main focus is always to make sure that it’s my best work to date.

What are you looking forward to most at the festival?

What I’m looking forward to the most is seeing how you guys will have the finished piece of all the letters incorporated into MIA weekend, I can’t wait to see it!

In the neighborhood I live in Philadelphia, chain link fences are one of the more common barriers used to distinguish between properties. Between and among these fences are also various beautiful gardens and other wild foliage. I was inspired by the contrast between the industrial material and grid-like pattern of the chain link fence, and the flowing, random nature of the gardens people grow. I was also inspired by the beautification of our spaces and the sense of community that occurs when people take care of themselves and their surroundings.

What are you looking forward to most at the festival?

Seeing the Cause Village sign put together, and Lizzo!

Rochelle Satchell, Herman Davis, Kariem Young, and Ibn Anderson (Peace+Love)

The Peace+Love organization was founded in 2005 in Philadelphia, by sister and brother, Rochelle Satchell and Herman Davis. After losing their sister to domestic violence, they created the Peace+Love Movement, a social cause marketing platform with a special commitment to nonviolence. In their “E,” Peace+Love depicts a world of harmony, tranquility, and unity. Their mission is to save lives, one challenge at a time. In their “L,” Peace+Love shares alarming statistics about American prisons in an effort to start a conversation.

What was your thought process while painting your letter?

The name of our organization is Peace+Love.  We have a strong commitment to changing the world that we live in using the fusion of FAME which for us stands for fashion, arts, music, and entertainment. The thought process for us when creating the art for our letters felt like, finally, a corporation that gets it! Roc Nation and Made In America, they get it. They think like we think – to be given an opportunity to convey an impactful message using art that will be viewed by thousands of people posed a great responsibility for us to make it matter.  With the assignment of two letters – we chose to reinforce our “Numbers Don’t Lie” PSA campaign using art by highlighting statistics and facts that impact the lives of people every day. We used that creative approach on both of our letters – “Numbers Don’t Lie” on the letter “E” highlights statistical facts for domestic violence, children and violence, and African-American males aged 14-24 and violence. We used the same approach on the letter “L.” With the letters “E” and “L,” we used art as a palatable social and civic engagement.

What are you looking forward to most at the festival?

What we are looking forward to most at Made In America is the chance to capture the reactions of festival-goers as they enjoy the huge letters done by us and other artists. Sharing festival-goers excitement on our social media; all while engaging with them in an organic, creative space designed to inspire and encourage them to be more socially conscious and choose reform, peace, love, non-violence as tools to change our world!

Marisa Velazquez-Rivas

Marisa Velázquez-Rivas is an award-winning artist and design director who has worked with Eminem, Ice Cube, Blink 182, and Lady Gaga. Having lived through struggles in Puerto Rico, a dictatorship in Venezuela, and Trump’s USA, Marisa found comfort and safety in illustration and picked up sharing her messages via wheat pasting last year. Her “V” exclaims that minority communities do belong in our society and should not be treated as America’s outsiders.

What was your thought process while painting your letter?

My letter is a visual utterance of the battles and achievements minority communities have and are currently experiencing. In this message there is camaraderie, community, unity and leadership — it is a plea to realize the weight of our voices and continue to fight the good fight for our existence. We are here and we belong.

“Any time you have an opportunity to make a difference in this world and you don’t, then you are wasting your time on Earth.” — Roberto Clemente

What are you looking forward to most at the festival?

More than anything I’m really looking forward to seeing how people interact with Cause Village. As for acts, I’m really looking forward to Rosalía. It’s inspiring to see Spanish and Latino artists make lineups and lead in music festivals. Cardi B, Kaytranada, Lizzo, Tierra Whack, Travis Scott, Gucci Mane, Jorja Smith, and Anderson .Paak are also top of my list. This year’s lineup slaps!

The rest of the letters will be showing up at the Benjamin Franklin Parkway August 31 to September 1 for the festival. See you there!

For more information about Made In America, visit: madeinamericafest.com.