Our (New) Story
After fourteen years as MamaCITA* our members have made the bold move of reinventing themselves as Artessa Alliance.
MamaCITA was founded in 2006 as a mothers’ cooperative in the arts. In 2020, we decided to branch out with a new name, and an updated mission.
A group of women-identified visual artists from the Greater Philadelphia area who are dedicated to our respective creative practices and committed to supporting each other and collaborating on creative projects.
Our (New) Story Continued…
Our original mission to support mothers seeking relief from the isolation of parenthood seemed to have grown up with our children. We had more freedoms but still cherished the support and opportunities our women’s collective very much provided. We decided to grow our collaborative to allow for diversity of age, background and community interests and to share our strengths and experience with more than just mother-artists.
The Artessa artists’ original plan was to launch the updated alliance in February 2021 with our fourth scheduled biennial exhibit at Cheltenham Center for the Arts, our long-time affiliate. Then the world came to a halt. We were suddenly dealing with the unexpected social distancing of the Covid-19 pandemic. Many members lost studio space, jobs, and even health. Our beloved arts center closed its doors. So we did what we’re so good at: we collaborated. Kicking into high gear, we used our solitude as the impetus to accelerate the development of our new name and mission. After the most intense project in our history, and oh so many Zoom meetings later, we had a new name- Artessa Alliance.
Artessa Alliance, was chosen on the premise that we are a tessellation of women artists–each single member made stronger by our combined power.
In crafting our new vision, discussion revolved around the aims we were striving to achieve as women artists. We worked through our most important achievements over the course of our collective, what core values held us together, and what we hoped to accomplish for our future. At the heart of that exchange was the recognition that our most important connection is finding camaraderie in our art practice and assisting each other in bringing our original art to a conversation with the community through exhibitions.
Artessa Alliance will continue to support women, and women identifying artists, but we’re leaving behind the motherhood requirement. Our group’s evolved mission will continue to include their foundation of supporting each other with creative opportunities. We are linked, allied women artists who adapt to the world around us. We engage individually and collectively with the community by creating relevant and thought-provoking art. We hope to inspire others to work towards positive change. As we move forward, adapting, monitoring and adjusting, our vision is to explore, learn, and hone our craft as we continue to speak to you through our art.
Rashida Salam installing her “tessalated” work in our 2019 Process Biennial, Cheltenham Center for the Arts
Kimberly Mehler’s tessalated mural at George Washington Carver High School of Science and Engineering
*Artessa Alliance will move forward with our new mission while the name MamaCITA will survive in a new format under its original founder.
Artessa Alliance members are accomplished visual artists who are also authors, educators, business owners, art editors, international workshop leaders, designers, curriculum developers, jewelers, painters, photographers, muralists, web developers and bloggers. Published work has been featured in periodicals (Newsweek, Trends, Country Living, Philadelphia Stories, Horticulture Magazine, etc.) and in Fine Art Books (Forgotten Philadelphia: Art and Writing Inspired by Philadelphia Heritage Sites and Extraordinary Gifts: Remarkable Women from the Delaware Valley). Members have been profiled on NPR, Newsworks.org, PHL Channel 17, 95.7 BEN FM’s Woman of the Week, XPN Arts Crawl, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and many local publications.
Artessa Alliance artists have achieved numerous honors including:
Grants: Leeway Foundation for Art and Change, Cultural Alliance/PA Council on the Arts, Delaware Division of the Arts, Rivers Merging, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Carnegie Institute, University of Hartford Graduate Thesis Grant to Paris, France
Fellowships: Fulbright Fellowship, Temple University Fellowship, Yale University Summer School of Music and Art Fellowship
Awards: Philadelphia’s Mothers in Charge Peacemaker Award, Best in Show at Abington Art Center & Best of Philly, Cheltenham Center for the Arts Linda Brener Award, Mural Arts of Philadelphia commissions.
Residencies: Iceland, Ireland, Wyoming, Pennsylvania.
The Artessa Alliance artists work in a variety of mediums including acrylic, ceramics, collage, encaustic, fiber, photography, printmaking, metalsmithing, wire, new media, oil, and watercolor.
Artessa Alliance maintains a membership of 15 to 20 women visual artists in the Philadelphia area. Membership is generally by invitation or nomination. Occasionally we accept requests for membership. Inquire here.
Our collective of women artists includes a rich and accomplished history of exhibitions, projects and markets. We continue to collaborate on new work, the key to our mission.