Get off of campus soon because October is Mural Arts Month at Mural Arts Philadelphia, the largest program dedicated to collaborative public art projects in the entire nation. Each year, the celebratory month features free exhibitions, symposiums, mural dedications, and more, providing a rare chance for students to lose themselves in the art and culture of the wider Philadelphia community. From now until Nov. 3, here is a glimpse of what’s in store:

You Are Magic

Designed to combat societal divides, Alicia Eggert’s You Are Magic is a massive interactive mural with a heart–rending message. The mural takes an unconventional form—a blow-up sculpture—and is composed of a conductive platform and half–inflated colorful mass. When multiple people join hands on the platform, creating a circuit, the sculpture fully inflates into emphatic pink, yellow, and blue letters: “YOU ARE MAGIC,” proclaiming the importance of connectivity.

Come out to Aviator Park on Oct. 26 or Paine’s Park on Oct. 27 to see the installation in action.

Portraits of Justice

The Portraits of Justice initiative is a collection of artwork and performances that explore restorative justice, especially relating to the lifelong impact of the criminal justice and juvenile justice systems on young adults, returning citizens, and incarcerated individuals. This month, the lineup of events includes a storytelling workshop titled When and Where We Re–enter, a simulation experience on Overcoming Barriers to Reentry, an audiovisual narrative about discrimination and family reunification titled Labels, and a day–long symposium that will engage audiences in visualizing a brighter criminal justice system that will center around art, advocacy, and reform.

Photo: Emma Boey

Water Gives Life

Water Gives Life, a mural by artists Eurhi Jones and David McShane, features vibrantly colored flora and fauna suspended above a birds–eye view of Philadelphia. The design, which resembles Japanese woodblock prints and draws inspiration from Ruth Asawa’s hanging wire sculptures, portrays Philly’s multiplex of water pipelines that deliver clean water from the Schuylkill River to the Delaware River, and anywhere in between. 

The mural dedication will take place on Oct. 23.


Over the course of this year, Walé Oyéjidé, creative director of Ikiré Jones and Black Panther scarf designer, has taken students in the Mural Arts’s Artrepreneurs program on a quest to explore how the clothing and tapestries of the African diaspora shape lasting identities. The culmination of this project is a large mural on the Lucien E. Blackwell Library facade titled Legacy, which comprises three colorful panels with patterned borders based on traditional tapestries, each featuring a cultural dimension of the African diaspora. 

Show up at the Blackwell Library on Oct. 20 for the mural dedication (and a last chance to try Federal Donuts’ Berries & Cream Mural Arts Month donut). 

Photo: Emma Boey

5th Street Tunnels

While street art can serve many contentious purposes, from cultural expression to social commentary to territory marking, the 5th Street Tunnels project is simply meant to celebrate the hard work of behind–the–scenes bridge workers and entertain those just passing by. Artists Brad Carney, Melissa Mandel and Mat Tomezsko were commissioned in partnership with the Delaware River Port Authority to completely revamp the tunnels of 5th Street with original art. Carney and Mandel graced the pedestrian tunnel with a series of semi–abstract, semi–photo realistic renditions of classic Philadelphia sights, while Tomezsko lets loose in the vehicular tunnel with blazing cross patterns and bright swatches of color.

The mural dedication will wrap up the month’s events on Nov. 3.

For more of what’s on display for Mural Arts Month events, a whole list can be found on its website.


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