Tiny Room for Elephants Festival Brings Art, Music and Community to Cherry Street Pier

Beginning July 8th, artists will paint and install collectively for 10 days, culminating in a four-day festival.

tiny room for elephants artist

Artist Alloyius Mcilwaine returns to paint at the Tiny Room for Elephants Festival at Cherry Street Pier / Photograph by BeauMonde Originals

When Cherry Street Pier opened in 2018, it not only reactivated a long-dormant space, it also let the creative process shine with its public-facing studio setup. In addition to its ever-changing gallery space, the pier is home to two levels of artists’ workspaces made from converted shipping containers with large glass windows — so that visitors can see how art is made, and artists can reach new audiences.

It’s the perfect setting, then, for Tiny Room for Elephants to make some magic. Beginning Friday, July 8th, the artist collective will take over Cherry Street Pier for 10 days of painting and installing continuously in the same space.

“You can expect to see graffiti art, performance art, fiber art, abstract art, sticker art, NFTs, installations and art you’ve never seen before. That’s the beauty of Tiny Room, you never know what will pop up,” says Tiny Room For Elephants co-founder YaYa Horne.

Photograph by BeauMonde Originals

The inspiration for this year’s festival is “made with love and inspired by grit,” and if that sounds reminiscent of Visit Philly’s Love + Grit podcast, the callback is intentional — they’re one of the festival’s partners.

While the artists create, a live soundtrack — courtesy of some of the city’s most talented DJs, producers, and musicians — will play, inspire, and entertain. The process is free and open to the public most days (minus the party on the 21st), and you can catch different music sets each night — here’s the schedule of performers:

In addition to daily live music and art, you can also get creative with a Sip & Paint session hosted by Flygirrl. There’s one for adults on July 15th (with a cash bar), and another for kids on July 24th (with juice boxes). Both require tickets, available on Flygirrl’s website.

And now for the grand finale: Once the artists are finished creating, the festival culminates in a four-day party from July 21st-24th. The premiere on July 21st requires an additional ticket, but the weekend is free and will include a chance to see the entire installation, plus more live music (including an all-day dance party on Saturday, July 23rd).

The Tiny Room for Elephants Festival culminates in a four-day party / Photograph by BeauMonde Originals

The Tiny Room for Elephants Festival will feature 43 artists, including some returning favorites. After a hiatus due to the pandemic, the collective act of creating together and taking inspiration from each other is more welcome than ever.

“I felt like my biggest heartbreak of the pandemic was the fact that I lost Tiny Room for Elephants. You know, the anticipation was there, I already had a concept ready. So, when I got the invite, the excitement flooded me, of course,” says artist Marisa Velázquez-Rivas. Alloyius Mcilwaine, known on Instagram as Cultures Clothing, agrees: “I’m really excited to be back. … I missed the camaraderie.”

The Tiny Room for Elephants festival kicks off July 8th and runs through July 24th at Cherry Street Pier, 121 North Columbus Boulevard.