GSA Dedicates Major Artwork and Promotes Equity in Public Art in Philadelphia
February 17, 2022
PHILADELPHIA – Today, the U.S. General Services Administration dedicated Philadelphia artist Moe Brooker’s “The Fruit of the Spirit” painting in the first-floor lobby of the William J. Green, Jr. Federal Building. GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan joined Mayor Jim Kenney, family members of the late artist, Acting GSA Regional Administrator Joanna Rosato, and Senior Advisor to the Administrator on Equity Andrea O'Neal in dedicating the artwork and promoting GSA’s efforts to expand and diversify the pool of artists eligible for future federal public art commissions.
“Public art is for the people, and the Biden-Harris Administration is committed to ensuring that our public spaces and public art reflect the rich diversity and creativity that strengthens and inspires all our people,” stated GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan in her remarks.
"This work is a culmination of all of the work our father had made prior, and it shows he evolved as an artist over the course of his life in a single piece,” stated Misha Brooker, the artist's daughter. “You can really see the depth and breadth of him as an artist. This was his way of giving all of himself to the world in one piece. “The Fruit of the Spirit” isn’t just a passage from the Bible, it’s the fruit of his spirit, it’s him giving everything of himself."
"It’s so exciting to finally see “The Fruit of the Spirit” installed after seeing it in progress. It’s bittersweet because our father cannot be here, but he’s here with us in spirit,” stated Musa Brooker, the artist's son. “He was always pushing himself to grow and evolve as an artist. When you’re an artist and pushing yourself to improve and evolve, it doesn’t always result in success, so it’s wonderful to see that this work is a resounding success—his largest piece and greatest statement as an artist. It’s thrilling to see this success in person."
Brooker had a long and prolific career as a painter and printmaker, and he touched countless lives as a teacher and mentor for more than 40 years. The largest painting Brooker ever made, “The Fruit of the Spirit” is a bold arrangement of color, form, and line. Brooker has layered smaller, loosely-brushed areas of paint, chalky white lines and marks, and confetti-like patterns over larger fields of color. These dynamic forms are framed by several areas of stripes and checkerboard grids.
The artwork is 8-feet high by 30-feet wide and made up of five canvas panels, which were assembled, framed, and hung on the wall in September 2021. Brooker has said that, for him, the checkerboard “always represents options, possibilities, and what could happen.”
Brooker’s work, commissioned in 2015, joins–and was in part inspired by–an earlier artwork created by his friend and fellow graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Charles Searles. Searles’ work, “Celebration,” was completed for the then newly constructed Green Federal Building in 1977 under GSA’s Art in Architecture Program. “Celebration” hangs opposite “The Fruit of the Spirit” in a public space where it is accessible to all.
“I’m just really happy to be here today, to be a part of this,” said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. “As I said when I first saw this [painting], this will be here forever. Moe will be here forever. His memory will be here forever, and we appreciate his work and his life.”
“This is a fitting way to honor the memory of renowned Philadelphia artist Moe Brooker, who passed away last month,” said U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans (PA-03). “I’m pleased that the GSA will prominently display this work by one of the leading African American artists of our time.”
This event follows a recent announcement that GSA is updating the policy regarding its Art in Architecture program, which commissions visual art in federal buildings. The revised rule removes restrictions on subject matter, theme, and art styles and expands opportunities to a broader array of artists who reflect the diversity of America in public art.
GSA Administrator Carnahan encouraged interested artists to apply for inclusion in GSA’s National Artist Registry. The registry is open to all American artists by following these step-by-step instructions.
In addition, GSA is seeking public input on a new federal rule aimed at how the Art in Architecture program can proactively engage underserved communities during the art commissioning process, increase the number and diversity of artists considered, and ensure the program strengthens the experience of democracy and inclusion in America. Comments are due by April 4, 2022.
GSA is the owner of one of the nation’s oldest and largest public art collections, with more than 26,000 paintings, sculptures, video installations, and other media. Works from the collection are featured in post offices, courthouses, and federal buildings across the country, as well as on loan to museums and educational institutions.
GSA provides centralized procurement for the federal government, managing a nationwide real estate portfolio of nearly 370 million rentable square feet and overseeing approximately $75 billion in annual contracts. GSA’s mission is to deliver value and savings in real estate, acquisition, technology, and other mission-support services across government, in support of the Biden-Harris Administration’s priorities. For more information, visit GSA.gov and follow us at @US_GSAR3.