Philadelphia’s mural project, originally the city’s solution to graffiti, has transformed into a wide range of thought–provoking, colossal pieces that define our urban core.

Frank Shepard Fairey, well known for his OBEY sticker campaign and Obama Hope posters, is only one of the many contributers to the cause. This particular mural stretches across a brick wall near 9th and Washington. At first glance the war–themed imagery and red and black color scheme aggressively confront the viewer. However, a closer inspection of the layers of pattern and icons expose a striking juxtaposition of battle scene imagery and symbols of harmony. Peace signs hang around soldiers’ necks, guns shoot roses and a blimp reading “War is Over” soars over a war–stricken city.

We are both inspired by the vision of a peaceful society and discomforted by how unrealistic these images prove to be. Fairey even subtly incorporates his anti–authoritarian OBEY campaign through the wheat–paint masterpiece. Depicting Andre the Giant — the face of the campaign — as well as the etched word “obey,” he alludes even further to the armistice and equality we fight to achieve in a bellicose world. Overwhelming size, intricate patterns and bold color will draw you into this mural on the edge of the Italian Market, but the conflicting imagery, rarely placed together so boldly in the same work, will keep you thinking for the rest of the day.