Nov 22

Thanksgiving and Community at Mural Arts

by: Laura Kochman

At Mural Arts, we work on close to 100 public art projects every year, all across the city. Our Porch Light, Restorative Justice, and Art Education programs and our special projects—like the recently completed Monument Lab—work within specific guiding principles or themes, but we’ve also maintained a community muralism practice that is the foundation of our work. When Mural Arts got started in the 1980s, our work was all about making a big impact within communities through a seemingly small change: murals. We asked neighbors what they wanted to see, and we helped them make it happen—and we still do today.

We love this city, in all its complexities, and we love helping to tell its stories with all of you. Our community murals are all about creating a grassroots platform to build social capital and communal ownership of public space. In honor of a holiday that is all about community and gathering, here are some of our favorite community murals from 2017.

Curing Community 

On the wall of the long-running Philadelphia Pharmacy, this design by Cesar Viveros was inspired by community stories about medicine, from homemade herbal remedies to mom-and-pop drugstores. The colorful flowers and herbs brighten this neighborhood wall, and honor the legacy of the small business in this North Philly neighborhood.

 

  • Curing Community by Cesar Viveros. Photo by Steve Weinik.

  • At the dedication for Curing Community by Cesar Viveros. Photo by Steve Weinik.

Latinx Heroes 

At Julia de Burgos Elementary School in Fairhill, Latinx Heroes embraces cultural heritage and celebrates community leaders: Jesse Bermudez, founder of the Asociacion de Musicos Latino Americanos; Diego Castellanos, producer of Puerto Rican Panorama; Aaron Lopez, founder and editor of El Hispano; Julia Lopez, founder of Flamenco Ole; Dr. Carmen Febo-San Miguel, director of Taller Puertorriqueño; and Alberto Ceberra, award-winning independent artist; and Puerto Rican poet-activist Julia de Burgos.

 

  • Dancers perform at the Latinx Heroes dedication in Fairhill. Photo by Steve Weinik.

  • Latinx Heroes © 2017 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Danny Torres. Photo by Steve Weinik.

Tribute to Lt. Joyce Craig 

In the Lawncrest neighborhood that houses Engine 64, we dedicated a tribute by artist Nathaniel Lee honoring the life of firefighter Lieutenant Craig, who passed away in the line of duty in 2014. The mural also commemorates firefighter James Hynes, this year being the 20th anniversary of his passing, also in the line of duty.

 

  • Performances at the dedication for Tribute to Lt. Joyce Craig, by Nathaniel Lee. Photo by Steve Weinik.

  • Dedication for Tribute to Lt. Joyce Craig, by Nathaniel Lee. Photo by Steve Weinik.

  • Tribute to Lt. Joyce Craig, by Nathaniel Lee. Photo by Steve Weinik.

Cultivate Respect 

This Wissinoming public artwork was painted in response to acts of vandalism at Mt. Carmel Cemetary. In partnership with the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia and the Wissinoming Civic Association, and following a community vote, artist Barbara Smolen created a design that uses the beauty of nature to represent the beauty that is inherent in respect.

Cultivate Respect, by Barbara Smolen. Photo by Steve Weinik.

Longevity Through the Arts 

At Penn Asian Senior Services, this mural by artist Ann Northrup celebrates Asian American culture, and PASSi’s mission of enriching life for the elderly through art, culture, and a caring community.

 

  • Performers at the dedication for Longevity Through the Arts, by Ann Northrup. Photo by Steve Weinik.

  • Longevity Through the Arts, by Ann Northrup. Photo by Steve Weinik.

A Jury of Your Peers 

The Honorable Judge Jacqueline F. Allen, Jury Commissioner Daniel A. Rendine, Esq., and Court Administrator Joseph Evers of the First Judicial Court of Philadelphia partnered with us to inspire Philadelphians to take part in the civic responsibility of jury duty. This mural from artist Nathaniel Lee enlivens the jury room, and provokes deeper thinking about justice and citizens’ individual roles in the jury process.

 

  • The jury room at the First Judicial Court of Philadelphia, with a view of Nathaniel Lee's A Jury of Your Peers. Photo by Steve Weinik.

  • The jury room at the First Judicial Court of Philadelphia, with a view of Nathaniel Lee's A Jury of Your Peers. Photo by Steve Weinik.

  • The jury room at the First Judicial Court of Philadelphia, with a view of Nathaniel Lee's A Jury of Your Peers. Photo by Steve Weinik.

The Blueprint 

Wissahickon Boys & Girls Club is the first Boys & Girls Club to serve African American youth and the first to be led by an African American Director, William T. Coleman. Artist Felix St. Fort wove together images of African American STEAM innovators—inspiring figures from Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math fields—Henry T. Sampson, engineer and technologist; Dr. Alexa Canady, neurosurgeon; Misty Copeland, ballerina; Mae C. Jemison, astronaut and doctor; Percy Julian, chemist and civil rights activist; and Club Director William T. Coleman.

 

  • Dedication for The Blueprint, by Felix St. Fort. Completed 2017. Photo by Steve Weinik.

  • The Blueprint, by Felix St. Fort. Photo by Steve Weinik.

From all of us at Mural Arts, Happy Thanksgiving!

Last updated: Nov 22, 2017

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Carol Weidler MAP guide says

Art does ignite change! I am so proud of being a part of this MAP organization that addresses the emotions - problems, concerns as well as pride of philadelphia’s neighborhoods. Nicole, any chance that you might have printed this piece as a pamphlet or perhaps notecards? If so I would be interested in purchasing.