PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Michelle Angela Ortiz was born in South Philadelphia and grew up working in the 9th Street Italian Market.
Her parents owned a business with stands selling food and produce.
And now she's giving back. She's using her artistic talents to help transform the nation's oldest outdoor market and allow it to show its true colors.
The Our Market Project is a multi-year public art project transforming and upgrading the vaunted sales corridor. Its mission is to highlight and showcase the history and influence that immigrants and migrants have brought to the market over the years.
Her project is about supporting and shining a light on vendors, business owners and neighbors. The project also provides information to help them with issues such as gentrification, racism, displacement and erasure.
"My main goal," Angela Ortiz says, "is to show the value of what a space like this can reflect. In a hustling market, I want to open up communication to reflect how far we've come and really where we can go."
John Gargano can trace his family's roots to selling on 9th Street back to the 1800s. Gargano's Produce was in operation when there was just horse and buggies rambling along the street.
"It's like home," he says. "It's about heritage for me. Since 1910, my family's been working here. They worked a lot harder than we did. Horse and buggy. Everything is carried by hand. "
His old wooden produce stands were replaced with new brightly colored metal stands with hand-painted art emblazoned on them with pictures of relatives and inspirational sayings.
Michelle Angela Ortiz wants to acknowledge and thank the community for allowing her to pursue her dream. She's received crucial funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, funding from Philadelphia in partnership with the Mural Arts Program, and funding from the William Penn Foundation.
She has more plans in the works at the outdoor market, including replacing the faded vinyl awnings, and of course, more artwork honoring the legacy of the 9th Street Italian Market.
To find out more information please visit https://www.ourmarketproject.com