It's been eight months and countless scandals since President Trump was reported to have used a potty-mouthed slur against immigrants from Haiti and some African countries. "Why are we having all these people from s-hole countries come here?" Trump said during an Oval Office meeting in January, according to a Washington Post report. The president denied using the term.
This Friday, a pop-up one-day art show at the Adrienne Theater of works by 20 artists with roots in Africa, Latin America, and elsewhere uses that very slur as its title.
"S-holes: The Exhibit," at the Adrienne from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m on Sept. 28, was organized by Fatène Ben-Hamza, of Casablanca, Morocco, and Steve Garguilo, of Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, who bring together "remarkable, quirky artists" from all corners of the globe in similar one-day shows around the world. They call their effort the Le Chapeau Project, Garguilo said, because it tips its hat to the beauty being created in often-overlooked and disparaged places.
Entry is free and donations will be accepted to support the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition, Along with the art, there will be musical performances, beginning at 5:30 p.m.
One of the visual artists participating in the show is Northeast Philly resident Vanny Channal, a sculptor whose Cambodian-born parents raised him in a tough neighborhood of Long Beach, Calif. "My parents, they're war survivors," Channal said.
Exhibiting with Le Chapeau gives him an opportunity to counter negative stereotypes of their homeland and pay homage to its artistic heritage, he said. "If you look at the history of Cambodia, we have the largest religious structure in the world." The famous Angkor Wat temple complex includes architecture from the 9th to the 14th centuries.
In his day job, Channal is a welder at the Philadelphia zoo. Many of his sculptures use scrap metal to create precise and perfectly proportioned but larger-than-life animals, based on consultations with specialists at the zoo. Some of his work, including a human-sized praying mantis, is currently on display at the Morris Arboretum.
Channal considers the aspersions sometimes cast upon the countries targeted by Trump to be a product of ignorance. "A lot of the people who say these things have never even been to these places, you know what I'm saying? … I want to show people that we're more than that.
"When I got into this I knew — I assumed — that everyone else that's in the show is as hungry as I am," he said, "and they want to make a difference as much as I do."