Mar 24

9 Can’t-Miss Philly Muralists for Women’s Month

by: Norah Langweiler

Philly is home to a talented cohort of muralists and public artists who live and breathe the power of public art. The women on this list use their incredible talent to create attention-grabbing street art that provokes self-reflection, critiques our cultural and political realities, comforts and connects us. Through their artistic expression, they process the world around them, and in sharing it, ease our struggle to do the same.

 

Mural of James Baldwin's face painted in pink and yellow on a garage door.

untitled © 2017 City of Philadlephia Mural Arts Program / Nile Livingston, Fillmore Philadelphia, 29 E Allen Street. Photo by Steve Weinik.

Nile Livingston 

Local artist Nile Livingston is the skilled muralist and visual and graphic artist behind boutique graphic design firm Creative Repute. Nile has been involved with Mural Arts since 2004 – starting in our Youth Education program and culminating in her work as the lead artist on The Promise, a mural designed in conjunction with the Malcom Jenkins’ Foundation and Summer Camp.

This year, Nile is one of the artists involved in the #SisterlyLove campaign Visit Philly created to promote International Women’s month. For this project, Nile chose two iconic Philly women: Patti LaBelle and Mural Arts’ founder and executive director, Jane Golden. You can find their portraits 1100 Ludlow St through March 31.

 

Glass storefront painted with colorful flowers.

Mercantile Library © 2019 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Kala Hagopian, 1021 Chestnut Street. Photo by Steve Weinik.

Kala Hagopian 

Kala Hagopian is a fine-art muralist who specializes in realist works paired with vibrant colors and patterns. Kala is the brain and brush behind Hagopian Arts, which provides nature-inspired murals across and around the city. Kala is responsible for the Eco Mural Project plastered around the city, intended to raise awareness of climate change. The murals highlight the need for environmental stewardship by inserting meticulously-rendered images of fauna and flora throughout Philadelphia.

Kala has worked with Mural Arts on several projects including the Mercantile Library, the Philadelphia Marathon mural, and lead the restoration of Our Urban Landscape.

 

Column covered with sketch-style portraits. Behind it is a white wall with a pink neon sign that says

untitled © City of Philadlephia Mural Arts Program / Symone Salib, 444 North 3rd Street. Photo by Steve Weinik.

Symone Salib 

Philly-native and new(ish)-comer to the Philly arts scene, Symone Salib has plastered the city with illustrated portraits, starting conversations about pressing issues like bodily autonomy and civil rights. While much of her work takes on a political tone, some of her sketch-style portraits are meant to offer comfort or a bright spot on the walk to work or home from school.

Symone has worked with Mural Arts Art Education students, giving them insight into the life of a working artist.

 

Brick wall with black candy hearts that say

Goth Hearts © 2020 City of Philadlephia Mural Arts Program / Amberella. Photo by Steve Weinik.

Amberella 

Philly- and LA-based mixed media artist, Amberella, has been a fixture in the street art scene for decades. Her work often takes on a political tone, critiquing popular culture, social justice, mental health, and sharing love with others and yourself. Amberella’s public art sparks conversations about our own feelings of isolation, while reminding us that no one travels through life’s journey alone.

In collaboration with our Porch Light program, Amberella chatted with refugee and immigrant teenagers about locations throughout the city they feel are personal sanctuaries. Together, they worked to share messages of inclusiveness and kindness that were translated into some of their native languages, like Arabic and Karen, as a way to further connect within each particular community.

 

Drama Queens © Hysterical Men, 2020

Hysterical Men 

Anonymous artist, Hysterical Men, uses street art to call out the gender imbalance and inequalities inherent to American political system. By applying words generally reserved for women (“flustered,” “emotional,” “hysterical”) to portraits of male politicians in fits of emotion, Hysterical Men highlights the double standards women face both in politics and in society. 

 

untitled © Olivia McKnight, 2020

Olivia McKnight 

Newcomer to the Philly street art scene, we’ve only just begun to see Olivia McKnight’s Stevie Wonder-inspired self-portraits wheatpasted around the city. We look forward to seeing more of her comic book-style work become more prevalent.

 

Rippling Moon © 2018 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Meg Saligman. Photo by Steve Weinik.

Meg Saligman 

Muralist Meg Saligman’s work has become a touchstone for the public art movement in Philadelphia and across the globe. Combining a deep commitment to community engagement and collaboration, Meg blends contemporary and classical techniques to breathe life into old buildings and highlight the unique architecture found around the world. Through the design and creation process, she seeks to give voice to marginalized communities and facilitate social exchange through shared experience.

Meg has murals throughout Philadelphia, and with Mural Arts she created Our Flag Unfurled and Rippling Moon: An Urban Fairytale. Meg’s iconic and colorful work has been included in the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, and others.

Different Paths, One Market © 2011 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Michelle Angela Ortiz, 9 Street Market. Photo by Steve Weinik.

Michelle Angela Ortiz 

Visual Artist, muralist, and community arts educator Michelle Angela Ortiz uses her colorful large-scale projects to give voice back to communities whose histories are often lost or co-opted. Her work blends the traditional patterns and color combinations of the communities she is working within with modern techniques to create an immersive experience. While living and raising her family in Philadelphia, Michelle has traveled both the country and the globe for nearly 20 years, using art as a means to create social change and a tool for communication.

Michelle has led projects like Aqui y Alla, Families Separadas, Different Paths, One Market, and Seguimos Caminando (We Keep Walking), most of which highlight and honor the intergenerational immigrant experience.

A Taste of Summer © 2008 (restored 2018) City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Ann Northrup, 1315 Spruce Street. Photo by Steve Weinik.

Ann Northrup 

Ann Northrup is a painter, muralist, and art educator whose work features colorful landscapes and candid figures going about their daily activities. A university professor for many years, and the former director of Philadelphia Universities Foundation Design Program, Ann’s work as an artist and a mentor is widely recognized. 

Ann’s work can be found throughout Philadelphia. Her work with Mural Arts includes Pride and Progress, Taste of Summer, and Sandy’s Dream.

Last updated: Mar 26, 2020

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