The Common Room, a gallery, work space and store for womxn and non-binary artists, turns one
Congratulations to The Common Room on their one-year anniversary! Don’t know about them? Janyce Glasper is here to fill you in on this Fishtown gallery and workshop space that features work by women and non-binary artists. Read on for a sampling of what’s on view and be sure to stop by the store next time you’re in the neighborhood!

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Chelsey Everest Eiel founded The Common Room just over a year ago with a mission of providing exposure and paychecks for womxn* and non-binary artists. Now this Fishtown gallery and boutique displays an eclectic array of paintings, drawings, sculpture, embroidery, stationery, jewelry, ceramics, and fashion by some 75 artists, most of whom are local.

The Common Room, 1509 Front St. in Fishtown
The Common Room, 1509 Front St. in Fishtown

“It has been a transformative experience,” Eiel says, reflecting on how her vision for The Common Room has shifted. “It was definitely hard work, but I saw each challenge as an opportunity to adapt.”

Situated on Front Street, The Common Room is fully encased in glass, and appears almost like a cozy greenhouse from the outside. With lots of natural light and scented herbal candles (not to mention Marigold the cat and Rue the dog) its interior is inviting and friendly. Displayed objects are arranged in a modern twist on the Salon style — with framed artworks stacked atop each other, the inches between them allowing minute areas for eyes to rest. And while some artists explore portraiture or abstraction, much of the work is non-traditional and non-genre-conforming. What ties the work together is its shared interest in femininity and spirituality. Words like “feminism” punch out against pristine the white walls.

“This is a space for self-made women, entrepreneurs, women artists, local people, and the artists who support them,” Eiel continues. “Here we create our own definition of the female experience and female form in art.”

Wall display at The Common Room, 1509 Front St. in Fishtown
Wall display at The Common Room, 1509 Front St. in Fishtown
The Common Room, 1509 Front Street in Fishtown.
The Common Room, 1509 Front Street in Fishtown.

Amidst crystalline jewelry placed in ceramic mugs and tidy shelves lined with homemade beauty products there are several stand-outs. Krista Dedrick Lai’s figurative collage drawings explore the historical foundation of white fragility and the present turmoil of white silence. Gina Turdo’s intricately designed macrame weavings dangle here and there, acting as an apparatus free of the human body. Makayla Ramirez of Little Fierce Press exhibits t-shirts, totes, and silkscreen prints with blunt, empowering messages.

Moving beyond perceptions of women as vulnerable and towards an exchange of power that comes from strength in numbers, The Common Room promises its artists guidance at every step of the way.

The Common Room also has an accessible basement level that will open September 6th for workshops and special events ranging from crafty button making with activist/artist Sarah Kodish-Eskind to all-levels yoga on Sunday afternoon. A “radical bleeding workshop” promises to address the taboo subject of menstruation from a place of body positivity, and natural healing. Tarot card discussions, holistic wellness, essential oil therapy, art making demos, and other events are planned in the future.

“I want to continue to serve the community,” Eiel explains. “So the Common Room will grow and evolve to meet the communal need.”

The Common Room Philly is located at 1509 N. Front St, Philadelphia, PA, 19122. They are on Facebook (@commonroomphl) and Instagram (@thecommonroomphilly). Visit The Common Room website for more information. Women and non-binary artists who would like to display their work at The Common Room, can email Chelsey at commonroomphilly@gmail.com.


*A trans-inclusive spelling of “women” that also emphasizes womxn’s autonomy from men.

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