About the Project
The result of numerous community meetings in North Philadelphia neighborhoods over 2019-2020, The Viaduct was a monumental effort and collaboration between artists and community leaders to turn three heavily-traveled underpasses into safe and vibrant spaces for all. The designs are reflective of the strength and resilience of surrounding neighborhoods and pay homage to the complexity, history and beauty of the community, portrayed in bright, abundant colors to demonstrate the power of accomplishing together what we cannot do alone.
As part of the design development process artists were asked to host a series of community events in the neighborhood near their assigned underpass mural. These events started in January 2019 and ran through early spring 2020. They ranged from painting large sunflowers and making mosaic pots, to community dinners and a dress-up photoshoot. Events helped artists further engage with the community, collect input, images and stories to help evolve their designs. Photographers Shawn Theodore and John Noble captured the community spirit of these events.
Norris Street Underpass
History In The Present Moment (I AM), Procession, Portals of Progress & Play designed by artists Patrick Dougher and Josh Sarantitis calls attention to the divine nobility, royalty and spirituality of the local community. The South wall, Portals of Progress & Play uses color, design and texture to speak to the complexity and beauty of the community and the traditions of the African diaspora, showcasing bright colors and bold festive designs. The North wall, Procession represents the royal procession of the present moment.
“In the here and the now we are divine whole beings. In bold dignity we stand upright together in unity. We are whole as individuals and a community. Accomplishing together what we cannot do alone we each continue the whole spirit and soul of the community.”
Poems included in the design were also inspired by the “royalty” and beauty of the community members. The “Hood Haikus” were written specifically for the mural design and were contributed by Philadelphia poet Ursula Rucker.
“There crowns like light beams
Bridge blocks graced with gold leaf in
This royal domain”
Diamond Street Underpass
Diamonds in the Rough designed by Andrea Legge of the design firm Legge Lewis Legge was directly inspired by themes and conversations with members of the community, in particular, two statements: “We are diamonds in the rough,” and “It takes pressure to make a diamond”. The design references an eight-step ‘community building’ plan focusing on the principles of family, spirituality, school and community. Each theme is illustrated on a different wall of the Diamond/10th Street underpass.
Our Neighborhood: Growth, Unity, Abundance, and Love by Priscilla Bell and Anthony Torcasio is focused on community, abundance and growth aimed to portray the pivotal strengths that exist with the community. The design incorporates elements that are specific to the neighborhood, such as specific row homes and sunflowers that grow at a neighboring community garden in the summer. The fractured lines in the background illustrate the interconnect-ness of all the living beings represented in the mural, from the pollinators, to foliage and people.
Berks Street Underpass
Magic Hour by artist Brad Carney and poet Ursula Rucker was created to reflect personal moments and shared feelings from community experiences during magic hour. Magic hour is a transitional moment each day at sunrise and sunset where the light embraces us and gives us the opportunity to view the world in awe. The design represents a scene of transition. The sun is just about to set, people are coming and going, embracing the moment of illuminating light.
The mural, placed across the street from the SEPTA station, is also reflective of a location of transition for many commuters going to work, school, and home. The mural aims to provide a moment of pause to those in their daily commute and pass by just as magic hour does– –reflect in a moment, shed light on our lives, and embrace the day.
Each figurative element represents an expression of joy or wonders as the viewer connects internally or with others. The landscape draws from nature, historical buildings, and local contemporary settings reflecting the past, but also look ahead at the collective bright future. The words and images in the mural are meant to stand alone. They can be formed into one’s own narrative, or be something that the viewer thinks about and interprets as they walk away from the mural.
The City of Philadelphia’s Division of Housing and Community Development
Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha
Penrose Recreation Center
8th & Diamond Advisory Council