Client: Mural Arts Philadelphia
Location: Philadelphia, PA, United States
Completion date: 2022
The Emerald Street Underpass is a mural project in the Kensington neighborhood in Philadelphia through the Mural Arts’ Color Me Back: Same Day Work and Pay Program, an initiative that combines participatory art-making and access to social services in a unique model offering individuals who are experiencing economic insecurity an opportunity to earn wages. It is a low barrier program, recruiting from an underserved community. Participants are paid every day that they work, and are invited to take an active role in making the mural.
Envisioned as a garden of rare and resilient plants, the design features hundreds of individual sections of repeating imagery painted by participants of the program. The mural weaves together different aspects of the neighborhood. It is intended to recognize the individuality of the contributors while celebrating the strength, resilience, and distinct character of the community.
Envisioned as a garden of rare and resilient plants, the design features hundreds of individual sections of repeating imagery painted by participants of the program. Working from stencils, each participant is encouraged to create their own interpretation of the imagery and leave their unique mark on the mural, resulting in a vibrant array of diverse voices expressed throughout the composition.
In addition, dozens of free community painting events are being held at partner sites. Community members are invited to paint freely on mural cloth, writing names of loved ones, meaningful phrases, and generally expressing themselves in a fun and comfortable atmosphere. The materials from these sessions are repurposed and incorporated into the mural.
The result is a mural made by the contributions of hundreds of individuals.