*Photographer Jim Prigoff passed away on Saturday, April 21, 2021, at the age of 93. Mural Arts has worked with Jim since 2015 on an archival project of his Philadelphia work.
For the first couple decades of its existence, the fledgling organization now known as Mural Arts Philadelphia spent a whole lot more energy creating works of public art than it did documenting and recording that work. In the early years, documentation was spotty and incomplete. Records were scattered, lost, or never created. Over 36 years and thousands of projects, much of that early work has been lost or forgotten.
As a longtime employee and Staff Photographer, I’ve also adopted the role of visual archivist. It’s my job to dig through what records we do have and properly tag, caption, and add them to our digital asset library.
In 2015, I was approached by legendary photographer Jim Prigoff with an exciting opportunity. He’d ship me roughly 1,500 slides from trips to Philadelphia between 1967 – 2005, and I’d scan, identify and label them before sending them back. In the end, Mural Arts Philadelphia would be left with the James Prigoff Archive. You can read more about that project here.
Jim was early to recognize the fact that graffiti is both legitimate art and ephemeral. He understood that the photograph was the record and worked to document graffiti and murals at a time when virtually no one else recognized these things. His photography and his push to share it with the world helped to both preserve and validate the work.
The James Prigoff Archive at Mural Arts has been shared with only a small number of people – until today. In this collection of 1500 images, more than half are missing some or all identifying information.
In all images, we would like to identify:
- Location (City and Street Address)
- Artwork Title (if any)
There’s no easy way to crowdsource this information, so I’ve created a series of galleries with images that are still missing some or all of that data. I’m starting with five scanned boxes of slides from 1992. Take a look and reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you recognize the location, artist, or artwork in any of these images.
The work to identify and preserve Philadelphia’s early history of graffiti and muralism can’t be finished without public knowledge and support. If you’d like to help, or just stay up-to-date on the project, please fill out the form below.
Thank you for taking the time to browse these galleries. Most of all, thank you to Jim Prigoff for decades of work documenting this artwork.
Last updated: May 3, 2021