The North Philadelphia Beacon Project

artist James Burns

The North Philadelphia Beacon Project © 2013 Mural Arts Philadelphia / James Burns. Photo by Steve Weinik.

About This Project 

Created as part of the three year Porch Light Initiative in collaboration with Sobriety Through Out-Patient (S.T.O.P.), the mural The North Philadelphia Beacon Project reflects the creativity and effort of hundreds of community members, S.T.O.P. staff and service recipients, volunteers, and artist James Burns.

The mural was created and installed at Broad and Lehigh, in the heart of North Philadelphia.  Visible on the north and south facing walls at the northeast corner, the mural exists as a reminder of the value of each day, and reminds us that we are a community of individuals, each with a voice and power.

The choice of the word RISE evolved from 5 years of work with the recovery community. At roughly 40’ high, on the north-facing wall, the word RISE is visible for miles. Inherent in the word is the idea of recovery. RISE is painted atop a color grid, which houses portraits of community members and participants in the program. Artwork created with the artist and community in weekly workshops is re-presented within the large letters in a collaborative collage form. This collage work also exists on the south-facing wall within the color grid, where the word SHINE is painted at over 80′ tall.

Within the color grid lives collage from individual participants.  Inside the large letters are quotes and phrases from the projects’ many contributors. The phrases are quotations, segments, and word collages that originated from the workshops and originally lived in participant and artist sketchbooks. Those phrases were later incorporated into the final design. All of the sketches became the support material that gives this large project its rigor, and creates substance that is far greater than the two simple words RISE and SHINE. This breathes new life into the phrase, and begs us all to stop and think about these words in a new way and in a new context.

Project Photos 

  • The Mural Arts team installing the North Philadelphia Beacon Project, by James Burns. Photo by Steve Weinik.

  • Project Paint Day. Photo by Steve Weinik.

  • Project Paint Day. Photo by Steve Weinik.

  • Project Paint Day. Photo by Steve Weinik.

  • Installation of the mural. Photo by Steve Weinik.

  • Artist James Burns Speaks at the project dedication. Photo by Steve Weinik.

  • Ribbon cutting at the dedication of the mural. Photo by Steve Weinik.