HOW and NOSM are twin-brother graffiti artists born in Spain, who grew up in Germany and currently reside in New York. They were members of the Tats Cru. Known for their tight colour palette and complex imagery, their work includes everything from skateboards and toys to large-scale installations. In 2012, Mural Arts commissioned HOW and NOSM to create a mural at 13th and Drury Streets. The commission is part of an innovative collaboration with Goldman Properties in which art serves as a vehicle to create a unique visual identity for a city-centre neighbourhood called Midtown Village.
Eight storeys’ high, Common Threads features characters based on antique figurines owned by the artist’s grandmother, with students from two area high schools mirroring their poses. The mural, which was created in 1998, reflects the common threads that link us across cultures and across time. On a typical weekday, 5,800 people pass through the SEPTA stop at Broad & Spring Garden Streets, making this one of Mural Arts’ most visible and iconic murals.
Mural Arts first approached Haas & Hahn in late 2010 after seeing images of their striking, block-long mural in Rio de Janeiro. Haas & Hahn work boldly and on an unprecedented scale, adding dynamic patterns of colour across expansive streetscapes. Their belief is that public art is only successful when it comes from community, involves community, and is sustained by community. The duo were considered to be the perfect fit for a project planned with the Commerce Department to revitalise a stretch of several blocks of historic Germantown Avenue.”
Artist Ann Northrup first met Marc Vetri in 2003 while working on a project across the street from his eponymous restaurant. Together they conceptualised a lush mural about food as art and as a shared experience, influenced by the time Northrup spent in Perugia, Italy. “His philosophy is that a great food experience is all about the feelings and environment you are in at the time, so we were perfectly in synch,” explains Northrup.
This 12,000-square-foot mural by Donald Gensler is a celebration of the disabled community. “Within the design, people with disabilities symbolise different actors within a diverse and extraordinary community,” Gensler explains. The mural includes the entire ASL alphabet finger spelling with corresponding letters underneath. Students from the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf modelled their hands for these painted characters. The 12 hands in colour spell out the word “independence”.
This mural project paired 13 artists from nationally recognised art collective Miss Rockaway Armada, with 31 Mural Arts art education students aged 10 to 15 to develop the concept, artistic flow and imagery for the mural. The collective taught the students creative exercises to help them access their imagination, exercises meant to show students that not everything has to end the way it began.
Acclaimed muralist David Guinn is well-known for his paintings of the natural world. In this stylised vision of a garden – created with transparent colours to simulate a watercolour painting – the two trees in the centre lean into each other, symbolising an embrace. The painted garden spills out from the space between them to join the community garden below; each graced by the other. Garden of Delight represents a new-found freedom in Guinn’s artistic style, reflecting an almost Van Gogh-esque quality.
One of our most ambitious and far-reaching projects to date, Legendary honours the homegrown hip-hop trailblazers, cultural icons, and Grammy Award winners, The Roots. From founders Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter and Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson’s humble beginnings at the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA), to their staggering 13 recorded albums, The Roots have influenced generations of artists locally, nationally and globally.
Mural Arts was honoured to work with one of the nation’s cultural treasures: poet, activist and educator Sonia Sanchez on Peace is a Haiku Song. This exciting project culminated in a mural honouring Sanchez as a celebrated practitioner and teacher of the haiku. It was inspired by Sanchez’s belief that the haiku form is inherently non-violent in its intent and structure and engenders beauty, serenity and brief reflection.
All Join Hands: Visions of Peace was a year-long, citywide, anti-violence project that resulted in an evocative mural on the facade of a local high school. Its aim was to use art to “cauterise the wounds of a community affected by youth violence”. The initiative included town hall-style meetings and painting workshops at which a broad range of people grappled with the complex issues surrounding youth violence.