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Indelible Artwork - The Condemnation of Slavery

Posted on Monday, July 6, 2020

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"Proclaim Liberty throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants Thereof."
Leviticus as inscribed on the Liberty Bell

Indelible by Alison Sky, 2003, Independence Visitor Center at Independence National Historical Park, Philadelphia


Developed as a "memory wall," the artwork entitled "Indelible" restores the passage "erased", the condemnation of slavery that was part of the original draft of The Declaration of Independence, and was deleted by Congress in 1776.

The artwork incorporates selected quotes on liberty representing those groups left out of the "all", "...all the Inhabitants Thereof", "...all Men are created equal..." and from the rights of The Declaration of Independence.

The artistic impression of facades in stucco and glass, symbolically reestablish the 18th Century scale of the residential neighborhood that once existed on the High Street (Market Street) site where the Independence Visitor Center is located.

The columns of text commemorate the importance of Philadelphia as one of the leading publishing centers in America, and the major role played by the printing press in support of the American Revolutionary cause.

Quotes selected pertaining to "rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" are reproduced from The Declaration of Independence as printed by order of Congress by John Dunlap in 1776. The condemnation of slavery (reproduced from the original draft of The Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson) and quotes representing groups of people left out of the "all" are inset into windows on the glass facade. The work is visually kinetic. The text blurs becoming illegible, and is revealed as the viewer moves.

The work is intended to expand awareness and consideration of how different history might have been had the passage condemning slavery and the slave trade not been erased from The Declaration of Independence.

Title: Indelible
Artist: Alison Sky
Location: Independence Visitor Center, Independence National Historical Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Materials: glass with text (ceramic frit silkscreen) and film, light, stucco, steel, paint
Dimensions : 17ft high x 33ft wide x 2ft deep
Commissioned by: The City of Philadelphia's Office of Arts and Culture under the Percent for Art Program in cooperation with the Independence Visitor Center, the National Constitution Center and the National Park Service.

Additional Information

Independence Visitor Center
599 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

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