Walls Dressed in Murals: On the Philadelphia Mural Art Project
The purpose of this presentation is to review the practice of mural making in Philadelphia, PA.; the mural capital of the United States of America. It traces the history of the Philadelphia Mural Art Project (MAP), which is a private non-profit organization, through its growth from Philadelphia’s Anti-Graffiti Network. In order to counter graffiti’s negative impact and to offer young lawbreakers a chance to create art, the Philadelphia Art Program was found in 1984 under the direction of Jane Golden. Today there close to 2800 outdoor murals distributed throughout the city. The styles vary from scenic views to portraits of community heroes, from abstract patterns to trompe l'oeils. These murals not only beautify neighborhoods and eliminate graffiti, but also help developing unity within communities through the selection of themes and the actual production of the murals. This presentation will explore the genesis of several major murals in the city and examine their impact on the public throughout the city, especially in the areas generally known for high crime rates and drug-related problems. It emphasizes that producing murals can validate a group’s involvement in a community. It also shows that murals could be an important source of history, sharing a memory, identity and belief.
Keywords: Mural making, Community art, Philadelphia
Dr. Açalya Allmer
Assistant Professor, Department of Architecture, Dokuz Eylül University