In-Progress

Industrious Light

Philadelphia’s industrial past plays the central role in Industrious Light, a dramatic new series of murals by artist Phillip Adams.

Industrious Light Murals 

  • Industrious Light: Brewerytown by Phillip Adams. Photo by Steve Weinik.

  • Industrious Light: Leviathan Main Belting © 2015 Mural Arts Philadelphia / Phillip Adams. Photo by Steve Weinik.

  • Industrious Light: Rowhouse Spirits © 2015 Mural Arts Philadelphia / Phillip Adams. Photo by Steve Weinik.

About Industrious Light 

Philadelphia’s industrial past plays the central role in Industrious Light, a dramatic new series of murals by artist Phillip Adams. In partnership with Hidden City Philadelphia, Mural Arts is creating a visual narrative of the city’s expansive history in brewing, textiles, tool-making, railroads and other key industries. The Philadelphia Public History Truck will provide additional context for the project through special community events and outreach.

Throughout the century following the United States Civil War, Philadelphia was known as the “Workshop of the World.” The city was a manufacturing powerhouse, with thousands of small- and large -scale facilities populating a wide range of industry—a reflection of Philadelphia’s entrepreneurial spirit. During this heyday, a complex and self-sustaining ecosystem emerged, supported by a vast network of working relationships within and across trades. This depth and diversity of production sustained the health and longevity of Philadelphia’s industrial base, far surpassing many other North American cities.

Industrious Light © 2015 Mural Arts Philadelphia / Phillip Adams. Photo by Steve Weinik.

Regardless of its early strength, Philadelphia’s manufacturing economy experienced an inexorable decline during the second half of the 20th century. Left behind were the enormous and often magnificent physical remnants of that disappearing city. As the city has redefined itself in recent decades, many of these historic structures, including mills and factories, have been repurposed for adaptive and imaginative reuse. A few have survived outright, having successfully adjusted with the times. Many others stand underutilized or forgotten, subject to scrappers, squatters, and nature’s decay.

Industrious Light honors the city’s proud industrial history and prompts discourse around its present-day impact. Adams’ murals will be created largely in charcoal, a throwback to “black and white” perceptions of the past and a reference to the primary materials of the industrial era. The Philadelphia History Truck will facilitate a dialogue around these physical spaces, engaging the public in discussions around the significance of our common narrative. Project partner Hidden City Philadelphia has assisted Mural Arts in site evaluation and research into the themes of the project.

About Phillip Adams

Phillip Adams received his BFA from the University of Georgia and his MFA from the University of Pennsylvania. He has exhibited his work in Philadelphia at Seraphin Gallery, Arcadia University, Moore College of Art, University of Pennsylvania, Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Tiger Strikes Asteroid (founding member), and Bridgette Mayer Gallery.

Industrious Light: Ortleib's Brewery by Phillip Adams. Photo by Steve Weinik.