In 2014 I served as Assistant Artist on Mural Arts Philadelphia’s journey2home project, a vibrant collection of murals and interactive installations focused on bringing more awareness to the thousands of youth in Philadelphia facing housing insecurity.
By working directly with youth who are facing or have faced housing insecurity, journey2home positioned local artists and youth as catalysts for positive change. I witnessed first-hand how the project gradually alleviated some of the negative effects of homelessness among youth. Through their presence in the program and the visibility of their artwork in the city, journey2home has helped young people to establish their place as contributing members of a community, created educational and vocational opportunities, and showed their potential to others.
The team arrived on the mural site early each day with their paint brushes in hand by the time we were scheduled to begin working. I would consider the youth’s interest in picking up the skills and attitudes necessary for employment a step into adulthood. For many, this was their first job. Over the course of painting the mural, I saw improvement in the team’s communication skills, stress management, and conflict resolution. On a broader scale, journey2home created an accessible visual dialogue about social issues like joblessness, inequality, and injustice.
Read more about journey2home and housing insecurity at journey2home.org. On October 10th, 2014 from 4pm – 7pm we celebrated the dedication of Home Safe, the journey2home mural on the corner of 42nd Street and Lancaster Ave.
Journey2home was a collaborative effort which included lead artists Ernel Martinez and Shira Walinsky, project manager Shari Hersh, journalist Elisabeth Perez-Luna, and researcher Dr. Carolyn Cannuscio. Lead artists Michael O’Bryan and Jared Wood joined the team in the final six months. The project engaged Mural Arts youths from our art education sites and participant organizations of the Family Service Provider Network. Youths, working with professional artists, attended workshops, learned skills, created art, ran events, explored their own stories, and then shared those stories with a wider public through interviews and art.