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Philadelphia Mural Arts Program

Transforming the city: wall paintings combat social exclusion

“Art ignites change” the firm belief at the heart of the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, an ambitious organization that creates public art with a profound impact on the urban landscape of Philadelphia. Urban regeneration and sustainable development combine to repair the torn fabric of communities in the city’s most deprived neighbourhoods.  

Fondation d'Entreprise Hermès - Philadelphia Mural Arts Program
© Kim Beck & Beverly Fisher

Throughout Philadelphia’s many neighbourhoods, formerly unremarkable walls have been transformed into works of art that attract more than ten thousands of visitors each year. The deeply collaborative process of creating this monumental, open-air gallery empowers people to continue to work for positive change in their communities. Launched in 1984 as an agency to combat graffiti, Mural Arts has grown into an internationally-recognized public arts organization that produces dynamic new work by local and renowned artists.

The Fondation d’entreprise Hermès supports Restored Spaces, an initiative launched by Mural Arts in 2008 to target the regeneration and enhancement of specific environments, such as the Conestoga Recreation Center, located in a low-income area of West Philadelphia. After decades of neglect, the site has now become an urban oasis of wall paintings, carved concrete reliefs, renovated facilities and gardens.

As part of this creative work in progress, and in situ, artists Kim Beck and Beverly Fisher collected contributions from local people, who were in invited to share stories and thoughts about how they relate to and interact with the natural world. Plants named in their narratives have been used to stock the Center’s gardens, and provide the inspiration for wall paintings created by artists and the neighbourhood’s young people. The planting scheme involves local people in a collective project, forging a new sense of community and raising awareness of the need to protect and preserve the environment. 

The project was selected for support by the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès as part of the H³ programme: Head – heart – hand.

>> Find out more about the H³ programme

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