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Meet the Philadelphia artist using immersive sculptures to spark joy, foster community in Kensington

Philadelphia artist hopes to inspire others with 12-foot sculptures in Kensington
Philadelphia artist hopes to inspire others with 12-foot sculptures in Kensington 02:35

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — For as long as Roberto Lugo can remember, he's used an unspoken language to communicate with others on a deeper level. 

"Art gets to the heart of the person, and it's more emotional, and you build a connection with somebody without words," Lugo said. 

Now, he's teaming up with Mural Arts Philadelphia on immersive sculptures that he hopes will bring joy and foster community in the city. 

Lugo grew up in Philadelphia's Kensington neighborhood. Over the years, he's seen the impact drug addiction has had on the community. Introduced to creativity through graffiti, he uses art as a way to inspire others.  

"It was a place for us to find connection and get away from the danger of the city and find community, so I see so much more when I look at graffiti than just letters," Lugo said. "I see people that want to see themselves reflected in art." 

Lugo is a renowned artist and ceramicist and is using inspiration from the Kensington community to design three 12-foot sculptures with colorful patterns as part of the project titled "We Here."

"A lot of these patterns come from the people in the community that live in Kensington, and the sculptures will be for them," Lugo said. 

"Embodying art's power to unite, heal and inspire communities, this project seeks to instill joy, ignite change, and foster community well-being through creativity and sculpture in Philadelphia's Kensington community, known for its resilience and strength amid social and economic challenges." 

In June, the one-of-a-kind, 12-foot tall sculptures will be transported to their future homes in Philadelphia's Kensington neighborhood, where they will be installed at the following locations: 

  • Taller Puertorriqueño
  • Kensington Corridor Trust Lot
  • Free Church of St. John

Each sculpture has an opening to allow people to step inside Lugo's artwork. 

"I'm creating an opportunity for people to put themselves inside of the pieces and take pictures of themselves in it as if they were inside one of my artworks," the artist said. 

Lugo said he hopes the sculptures will inspire others to see the beauty of Kensington, which is sometimes lost in the addiction that plagues the neighborhood. 

"What I hope for these pieces is that people can see their circumstance is not hopeless," Lugo said. 


What better way to celebrate Black history than through the arts? Here are 3 pieces on display at the Philadelphia Art Museum to catch during your next visit. Check out our website for more stories on Black history. #black #blackhistorymonth #blackhistory #philly #CBS #pennsylvania #arttok #phillyartist #artist #paint #sculpture #artmuseum #phillyartmuseum #heart #hustle #home

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