Stoop sitting has been a Philly summer ritual for many, many years. So of course it belongs on Instagram.
This June, West Powelton/Mantua resident Kaitlin Pomerantz, started up @stoop_phenomena_ to highlight all the awesome variations around the city. She runs the account for fun, but stoops aren’t just a hobby for the visual artist and educator — they’re part of her work.
Pomerantz got the idea for the Insta account while doing research for her installation in the Mural Arts series Monument Lab, which is titled Salvaged Stoops.
Monument Lab, which officially launches this fall, encourages people to talk about “history, memory, and our collective future” through several artworks placed around the city. Starting Sept. 16, a dozen of Pomerantz’s recreated stoops will temporarily replace several of the benches on the east side of Washington Square Park.
Pomerantz also plans to collect people’s stoop stories as part of the installation.
“The stoop is literally the thing that people walk on to get into their home: a threshold between interior and public space,” Pomerantz said.
For over a year now, Pomerantz has been going to places like demolition sites and collecting stoops, and then rebuilding them with the help of the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local 1. But she didn’t know where to display all the photos she’d been taking.
“I always take photographs as part of my own artistic process, but I started to think this might be something worth sharing,” Pomerantz said. “I woke up one morning and was like, ‘Ok, let me make it happen.’”
So now when she goes around hunting down handmade, unique or reconstructed stoops, they get a new life online.
“One of the big elements of my process for this project has been driving or biking or walking around and noticing buildings that are being torn down,” said the 31-year-old artist. “Just noticing architecture in general and the variety of subtleties that exist within this basic structure of three to four steps.”
So far, the pictured stoops on the account are found in areas like West Philadelphia, South Philadelphia, Kensington and Point Breeze. Pomerantz is regularly visiting different neighborhoods in the city because of her teaching job, so finding new material won’t be too difficult.
“Stoops often tell the stories of their own use,” Pomerantz said. “Whether it’s through wear or a part chipping away. They reveal their own histories.” In light of the current rampant development around the city, she added, the account could also become a valuable architectural archive.
Monument Lab ends in November, but @stoop_phenomena_ account will continue. Pomerantz also is open to posting submissions — and not just from Philadelphians. Two friends sent stoops from Berlin and Los Angeles, which she featured on the account.
“It’s fun to see what a stoop in Berlin or Los Angeles look like compared to Philadelphia,” she said. “It’s neat to see all these different interpretations around the world of this really simple piece of architecture.”