‘Threads of Transformation’ debuts at Philadelphia Magic Gardens

Threads of Transformation Magic Gardens, things to do in Philly
Krista Dedrick-Lai’s ‘Asymptote’ is shown.
Courtesy of Krista Dedrick-Lai

The Magic Gardens is recognizable in its own right — a stroll in South Philly can show you its impact — but there’s a new reason to head to the venue this summer, and it opens this weekend. 

Beginning May 17, the space will be showcasing a new exhibition curated by Exhibitions Manager Chelsey Luster, and it surrounds the idea of “self-reflection and growth through womanhood and motherhood.” Titled ‘Threads of Transformation: Works by Krista Dedrick-Lai and Margaux McAllister,’ the new works come from Dedrick-Lai and McAllister and will be onsite at the Gardens until July 14. 

Threads of Transformation Magic Gardens
Margaux McAllister is pictured.Courtesy of the Margaux McAllister

As a release notes, in the exhibition, the artists examine human connections and transformation, navigating brokenness, tenderness, and togetherness through the collection of mixed-media mediums. Dedrick-Lai, a multidisciplinary artist, uses the work to confront the everyday struggles of motherhood, domesticity, and being human.

While McAllister, a multidisciplinary artist based in Phoenixville, explores the complexities of motherhood, familial relationships, mental health, and healing.

Philadelphians may have also seen Dedrick-Lai’s work most recently in the Philadelphia Museum of Art for a project organized by Mural Arts and Streets Dept., and McAllister’s rug-tufted masks and paintings can be seen both nationally and internationally. 

‘Threads of Transformation’ will be onsite at the cultural venue alongside the space’s central pull—the immersive mixed media art environment is completely covered with intricate mosaics made from handmade tiles, bottles, bicycle wheels, mirrors, and international folk art.

The Magic Gardens have been open to the public since 2008 and folks from around the country, and the world, have flocked to the space to admire its artist, Isaiah Zagar’s masterpieces.

Zagar came to the City of Brotherly Love in the late 1960s and began what would be called the “South Street Renaissance”, and with it, Zagar and his wife helped kickstart the revitalization of the area by reinvigorating dilapidated buildings and adding colorful mosaics on both private and public walls. 

Threads of Transformation Magic Gardens
Krista Dedrick-Lai is pictured.JAMIE STOW

Years later, Zagar continued to showcase his work in vacant lots on South Street near his studio. In 2004 the owner of the lots Zagar was working on decided to sell the land and ultimately dismantle the work. Instead of allowing his work to be destroyed Zagar and the community helped save the works of art, and the preserved area became Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens. 

Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens is open year-round Wednesday through Monday, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. General admission the gardens range from $8 to $15, with discounts available to select groups. Access to exhibitions displayed in PMG’s galleries is free with admission. Anyone interested can learn more at phillymagicgardens.org.