Mural Arts tackles social issues and ideas with creativity

Mural Arts
Shot: We The Mothers press conference, Saunders Park, July 21, 2022.
Akeil Robertson.

Mural Arts Philadelphia has big plans for August. 

Most recently, the organization kicked off an event—Porch Light Community Curator: Connecting Communities—where the community merged together with three artists for a Porch Light van design at a festive block party. In doing so, Mural Arts also continued its main mission: To utilize art to inspire change. And they did so in a partnership with the city. 

As a release states, the Porch Light program, a joint collaboration with the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services, focuses on achieving universal health and wellness among Philadelphians, especially those dealing with mental health issues or trauma. And they do so by providing opportunities to contribute to meaningful works of public art. 

But the month of August holds a lot more meaning for Mural Arts with a few other activations. For one, this month is National Breastfeeding Month, and a local artist has decided to partner with the artful organization to advance the advocacy, protection, and promotion of breastfeeding to ensure that all families have the opportunity to breastfeed. 

Philadelphia artist Aimee Gilmore has teamed up with Mural Arts and the Maternity Care Coalition to present a series of flags that will line the exterior of the Maternity Care Coalition’s Early Head Start building in South Philadelphia from Aug. 13 to 17. These flags are part of Gilmore’s ‘Milkscapes,’ which she started in 2016 after the birth of her first child.

Mural Arts
‘Milkscapes’ by Aimee GilmoreProvided

The project utilizes Gimore’s breastmilk—and it was born out of an accident. After the artist spilled a laborious amount of milk, the idea for Milkscapes appeared, where art is created when the milk dries in abstract shapes, highlighting an otherwise invisible labor, a release states. 

And as Gilmore puts it, these flags also provide an opportunity to reflect on the power of the human body from a unique perspective, scale and presentation. This is the first time that Aimee’s Milkscapes will be presented as flags in this public installation in hopes to provide a timely and urgent starting point for conversations adjacent to mothering, including the necessity of the care economy, the right of choice, paid family leave, and parent-student rights.

Mural Arts Philadelphia is also continuing its mission this August with the Alumbra Celebration. On Tuesday, Aug. 16, at 7:30 p.m. (at 1800 Wallace St.), the evening will feature a celebration of a temporary light art installation created by students at the Mt Vernon Street Walkway. The pedestrian walkway between Waring Elementary School and Roberto Clemente Playground in Fairmount will ultimately be transformed into a safe, nighttime destination for the community, and the celebration will consist of food, music, and student speakers and performances.

Mural Arts
Students at Alumbra.Provided

Also on the docket for Mural Arts this summer is a partnership with a local museum. The Barnes Museum newest exhibition, ‘Faces of Resilience‘, showcases original artwork created by participants in Mural Arts Philadelphia’s Guild program and artists at SCI: Phoenix—southeast Pennsylvania’s maximum-security prison for men. As a release states, the Guild is a paid apprenticeship that gives justice-impacted young people the opportunity to develop marketable job skills and reconnect with their community.

‘Faces of Resilience’ in particular explores the theme of portraiture in both the literal and metaphorical sense. The different works in the exhibition are said to visualize personal experiences of loss and hope and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The exhibition aims to “give voice to the perspectives of individuals who are otherwise largely silent in our society.” ‘Faces of Resilience’ runs now through Aug. 22, in the Barnes Foundation’s first-floor gallery classroom. Access is free with admission to the Barnes.

And lastly, Mural Arts Philadelphia’s project with photographer and documentarian Kathy Shorr will be on display on the Saunders Park iron fence directly across the street from Penn Presbyterian Medical Center this summer.

‘SHOT: We the Mothers’ features 51 mothers who have lost children to gun violence in the Philadelphia area. In the project, the women were photographed at locations of their choice, which hold a special meaning to their children, and 30 large-scale vinyl photographs will be on display. Funders for this project included the City of Philadelphia, and partners for this project included People’s Emergency Center and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, and the exhibition will be on display through Labor Day. 

For information on Mural Arts Philadelphia, visit muralarts.org


 

Metro is one of more than 20 news organizations producing Broke in Phillya collaborative reporting project on economic mobility. Read more at brokeinphilly.org or follow on Twitter at @BrokeInPhilly

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