Together Moving Mountains

Together Moving Mountains by Freddy Sam. Photo by Steve Weinik.

Freddy Sam working with Mural Arts students. Photo by Steve Weinik.

About the Project 

In August 2013, South African street artist and muralist Ricky Lee Gordon aka Freddy Sam made a brief stop in Philadelphia to work with Mural Arts Philadelphia. An internationally acclaimed artist, Ricky came to the USA this summer to paint murals in Rochester, Philadelphia and Atlanta. During his stay in Philly, he worked with a group of art education students to create a new work of public art in the Kensington.

In the classroom, Ricky acted as both expert artist and collaborator. On his first day, he gave a presentation about his artwork and curatorial projects like A Word of Art, and then worked with our students to develop a series of abstract geometric patterns which were incorporated into the mural design.

Freddy Sam projected the design after dark during installation of the mural. Photo by Lisa Murch.

The next day, Ricky and the students went out to the mural site and began work on his first public art project in Philadelphia. Together Moving Mountains shows a springbok (a species of antelope) drinking from a river, with a ribbon of the students’ geometric patterns at ground level beneath the scene. Ricky’s work often features South African animals and scenes from nature. While the students were just at the mural for one day, Ricky worked through the weekend and finished the entire piece in just three days.

Mural Arts students painting the final mural. Photo by Steve Weinik.

To paint the springbok, Ricky began by working at night and projecting a photo onto the wall, using that to trace a sketch. Many muralists who come from a street art or graffiti background prefer to use this projection method when painting murals in order to speed up their work and ensure accuracy. Even some stencil artists have begun to use projectors on large murals, since it makes more sense than cutting mural-sized stencils.

After his stay here, Ricky left for the Living Walls Conference in Atlanta. We hope the Mural Arts methodology of combining art education with fine art mural-making sticks with him as he continues traveling the world and painting.