Philly is known as a city of murals, and next week, the whole city can get involved in creating the latest additions.
On July 28, Mural Arts Philadelphia and Morris Home are hosting a free public paint day and celebration in Clark Park (4300-4398 Baltimore Ave.) Taking place from 5 to 8 p.m., members of the public are invited to help paint panels of two future murals in a paint-by-number style.
The murals were inspired by both Mural Arts and Morris Home, the only residential recovery program in the country to offer comprehensive services specifically for the trans- and gender-nonconforming community. Wit López (they/them), one of Mural Arts’ 2021 Black Artist Fellows actually curated weekly art workshops at the latter. López, an internationally recognized, award-winning, multidisciplinary maker, performance artist, writer, and cultural advocate based in Philadelphia, led conversations that focused on healing to supplement the ongoing services at Morris Home.
Two other artists, Ali Williams (she/her) and Kah Yangni (they/them), also led workshops with residents to shape their mural designs. And now here is where next week’s artistic focuses come in: Williams’ mural will be installed at Philly Aids Thrift, 710 S. 5th Street in Queen Village, and Yangni’s will be installed at Cake Life Bake Shop, 1306 Frankford Ave, in Fishtown. The artists will paint the murals over the summer, and plans are underway to dedicate both of them officially in the fall of 2021.
Williams’ mural is “a memorial and life celebration of trans Philadelphians,” while Yangni’s text in the mural was collectively created through a workshop with Morris Home members. Williams’ mural also features Nizah Morris, a Black trans woman who was attacked and died from a head injury in 2002, and for whom Morris Home is named. For Yangni’s, photographs were also taken of members of Morris Home at Bartram’s Garden, and they were used as reference images to inspire the illustrations.
Both of these creations will be on display at the free event next Wednesday. The public will have the opportunity to paint panels from each of the murals with the backdrop of performances from trans and non-binary artists. The event on the 28th will also feature family-friendly art activities, artwork on display from Morris Home members, resource tables, Narcan training, and free food and beverages from food trucks as well as treats from Cake Life Bake Shop.
According to the release, Morris Home’s murals are an initiative of Mural Arts Philadelphia’s Porch Light program, a joint collaboration with the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services, in partnership with Morris Home. The project is funded by the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services and Niarchos Foundation. Morris Home is moving its residential facility to University City this year, and the staff and residents of Morris Home will be on site come Wednesday engaging with local residents in their new neighborhood at this event.
The paint day is free and open to the public and is fun for all ages and no formal painting skills required. The artists and a team of assistants will be on hand to show people how to participate and all supplies will be provided.