Philadelphia Muses

artist Meg Saligman

Philadelphia Muses by Meg Saligman. Photo by Steve Weinik.

About the Project 

Philadelphia Muses has remained one of our most iconic projects since its creation in 1999. Intended as a contemporary interpretation of the classical muses, Saligman has created an arts landscape filled with figures and elements symbolizing today’s art and creativity.

In the center of the composition is an arts machine spinning out spheres, symbols of the perfect art form.  Each of the nine muses in the composition is associated with a sphere, and there are circular references throughout the composition, such as the compass.

Through portraits of local performing artists and references to works of art by local artists, Saligman honors the following forms of creative expression.

From right to left:

  • the bearded man with the flute symbolizes sound;
  • the woman in the brown robe in front of a colored pencil is based on a figure from a Maxfield Parrish painting and symbolizes the visual arts;
  • the woman in the large sphere holding a sun represents the human spirit;
  • the singing woman in the green brocade is the muse of performance;
  • the ballet dancer, near a sphere enclosing the globe, represents discovery;
  • the seated man with a book is the muse of words;
  • the man in the contorted pose symbolizes invention;
  • the woman in the white robe is the muse of movement; and
  • the sculpture on the far left with the falling balls symbolizes craft.

The entire mural was created by the artist in her studio using large squares of a polyester fabric called non-woven media (or parachute cloth).  These were then adhered to the wall with an acrylic gel, much like a giant decoupage.  Saligman’s style is very painterly yet also very realistic and makes frequent allusions to classical themes and figures like the muses in this composition.


Independence Foundation