About the Project
Philadelphia is the global leader in juvenile life sentencing without parole, and this new mural from artist Phillip Adams looks candidly at the devastating effect on individual lives through the lens of traditional still-life painting. Adams and instructors from the Barnes Foundation (Bill Perthes and Christine Stoughton) worked closely with the Restorative Justice Guild and SCI Graterford workshop participants—developing the mural design after a poignant art history workshop on the concept of the still life in the context of the criminal justice system. Traditional “vanitas” or still-life paintings symbolize ephemerality and futility, and after viewing many of these artworks in the Barnes collection, participants struck up a conversation on stolen time and frozen potential.
Still Life invites viewers to slow down and contemplate temporality, incarceration, and freedom, while challenging mainstream ideas about who gets to make and experience fine art. The design includes a skull, inspired by the work of Cezanne and created by a participant at Graterford. Adams was assisted by artist Santiago Galeas and former Guild member Omar Robinson.
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
City of Philadelphia