‘Embracing the Light’ is here to bring suicide awareness to the city

Embracing the light
‘Embracing the Light’ will take place at FringeArts (pictured).

Mural Arts Philadelphia and First Person Arts have teamed up to put together two performances next weekend dedicated to raising awareness about the impact of suicide on communities. ‘Embracing the Light‘ will take place next Saturday, March 16, at 2 and 6 p.m. at FringeArts (140 N Christopher Columbus Blvd), and both free events are open to the public. 

The shows have come about after the loss of artist James Burns’ ‘Finding the Light Within’ mural due to new construction, highlighting the ongoing need for dialogue and healing around the topic of suicide. As a release notes, this initiative is part of Mural Arts’ Porch Light program, a collaboration with the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services, and shines a light on mental health issues through the lens of art and community engagement. 

Embracing the light

“Through ‘Embracing the Light,’ we aim to create a space for communal healing and understanding,” said Jane Golden, Executive Director of Mural Arts Philadelphia in a statement. “It’s more than performances; it’s a movement towards acknowledging the deep-seated effects of suicide and rallying together as a community to support those who this tragedy has touched. We are honored to be able to work with First Person Arts on such an important project.”

Local nonprofit organization First Person Arts has been serving the City of Brotherly Love with memoirs and documentaries shining a light on unique personal experiences for almost two decades, and this event will be no different. The showcase on the 16th will explore a few different personal narratives that were conceived after writing workshops led by Susan Barr-Toman. 

“First Person Arts is proud to partner with Mural Arts on the ‘Embracing the Light project,” said Jamie J. Brunson, Executive Director of First Person Arts in a statement. “We hope that talking away the darkness through true, personal stories can reduce the stigma around suicide and encourage people to engage with mental health resources. Taken together, these stories craft a powerful narrative that inspires the audience to embrace their own light and share that light with others.”

A community mural led by James Burns and an art exhibition will be accompanying the performance on March 16 as well. And as the release notes, the tales range from those who have lost loved ones to those who have experienced ideation and/or attempts. The goal is to make this a healing space, but organizers say, they recognize that these stories may bring up raw feelings for the audience. So, throughout each performance, there will be mental health experts on standby and resources provided along with information to anyone seeking support 

“Most of us have been, or will be, impacted by suicide at some point in our lives, and, yet, it’s a subject that, despite its relevance and proximity, is often shied away from,” said Director Daralyse Lyons. “By bringing these diverse and impactful stories to the Philadelphia community, the Porch Light Program, Mural Arts, and First Person Arts are dismantling the shame and stigma that so many of us who’ve struggled with ideation or who have lost loved ones can carry.”

Both First Person Arts and Mural Arts Philadelphia say they welcome everyone to attend this special event, whether or not they have been directly impacted by suicide, as awareness is an important part of prevention.

For more information on ‘Embracing the Light’, visit muralarts.org