May 23

How to Ignite Change in People

by: Laura Kochman

When the world around you tells a story about who you are, you may begin to believe it. Art-making has a special power to change that story from the inside out. Across our many initiatives, Mural Arts offers opportunities for personal expression and healing. Together through art, we can shift the way individuals see themselves.

Guild Coordinator Dawan Williams speaks at the dedication for Still Life. Photo by Steve Weinik.

The Guild, for example, offers participants a chance to rebuild their lives and reconnect with their communities. In this paid pre-apprenticeship program, justice-involved individuals learn carpentry, mosaic tiling, and painting. With classes in financial literacy and parenting skills, job readiness training and job placement services, Guild members leave the program with a stronger sense of their own abilities and a better chance to direct the narrative of their own lives.

Artist Swoon (right) with a workshop participant at the Kensington Storefront. Photo by Steve Weinik.

And in the Kensington neighborhood, folks took part in a public art project last year that was all about looking closer at your own life with an open mind. Trauma-informed artist Swoon led workshops in narrative and visual art that taught simple and accessible self-care techniques (like this illustrated zine). Now, a mural called Healing Begins Through Connection features the portraits of workshop participants. The cheerful artwork asserts the value of all lives and experiences.

A Collection of Creative Decisions, by James Burns. Photo by Steve Weinik.

That project was part of our Porch Light program, which develops community wellness through art. Last year we also worked with residents at Einstein Medical Center’s Long-Term Structured Residence, many of them living with health issues that make communication difficult. Artist James Burns helped them find new ways to make connections and turned their creations into a mural called A Collection of Creative Decisions. For some of the participants, this experience led them to communicate for the first time. This year, we’re deepening the relationship between the residents and their Germantown neighbors, weaving bonds through shared experiences.

Artrepreneurs students learn how to screen print from Maryam, Pugh owner of Philadelphia Printworks. Photo by Michael Reali..

In another one of our ongoing initiatives, Artrepreneurs, teens develop artistic talent and learn professional skills. We train budding entrepreneurs in classes with art teachers and area business leaders—this year, partnering with Philadelphia Printworks. Students envision and launch their own small businesses, and they showcase their work at pop-up events throughout the year.

How has art changed your life?

Last updated: May 23, 2019

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