Walls Dressed in Murals: On the Philadelphia Mural Art Project

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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
Stream: Art in Communities
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: , , , Walls Dressed in Murals


Dr. Açalya Allmer

Assistant Professor, Department of Architecture, Dokuz Eylül University
Izmir, Turkey

Dr. Allmer received a B.Arch. from Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey and a M.Sc. and Ph.D. from University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA., U.S.A. Dr. Allmer is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Architecture at Dokuz Eylül University in İzmir, Turkey. Her interests are in the intersection of art and architecture. In addition, she is also interested in the textiles in architecture, metaphors and meanings of cloth in architectural design and autonomy of surface in contemporary architecture. She has published numerous articles on these topics, and has attended many conferences in USA, Germany, UK and Turkey.

Ref: A07P0121