Philly Rising is a virtual mural project in collaboration with Mural Arts Philadelphia and the Wawa Welcome America Festival; designed to connect and represent people across Philadelphia.
It’s a collaborative artwork that encourages Philadelphians to send in their images of what they believe captures the spirit of this city. Anyone who has been to Philly has the opportunity to contribute photos, artworks, and poems that will act as puzzle pieces, assembled together to form a larger image of all of humanity. Just as each Philadelphian plays a pivotal role in the fabric of our community, each visual will be woven into this collective piece that represents the resilient spirit of our city. Viewers are taken on a journey beyond their own standpoint to bear witness to the City of Philadelphia from the perspective of other people’s lived experiences.
Inspiration for Philly Rising began while running essential errands during the pandemic. I’d notice that neighbors hung their children’s rainbow paintings, poems, or quotes offering hope and encouragement in their front windows. As the pandemic snowballed and calls for racial justice catalyzed our community to uplift each other, more Black Lives Matter signage would appear in windows. I felt captivated by the concerns for social relations and pondered on how communities of people were naturally contributing public artworks and trying to curate different, more caring encounters. Mural Arts published a call for proposals when the pandemic first began, and I bounced ideas off of them for a few weeks until we came up with this final artwork. I went through several rounds of revisions and finally decided to remove all figures from the artwork and simply render the Philadelphia skyline in hopes that this would offer a neutral but widely recognizable playground. We decided to make the artwork virtual because now more than ever, when people are increasingly staying home, we are relying on the instantaneous way that information is transferred and consumed online.
The artwork aligns with my style of making art in the sense that it’s vibrant, bright, and bathed in colorful splashes. I decided to try a different medium from my usual hand-painted artworks and experimented with a program called Procreate for the first time to digitally paint the skyline. I experimented with the textures and brushes that the program offered and allowed my hand to be as expressive as it could during the art making process.
The main intention with this virtual mural is to offer a platform that allows people to address some of our complexities with a certain grace that feeds our spirit and overall well-being. This mural reminds us that we fit together and that we belong here. It unites us and allows us to be apart of something larger than ourselves. It’s a platform that lets us express our differences while simultaneously expanding our capacity to imagine a brighter future.
The title of the artwork is Philly Rising because Philadelphia is a city of underdogs. We are resilient and tenacious. We are built on grit and mutual support. In the face of adversity, we rise to the occasion.
Ever wanted to be featured on a mural? Now is the chance to do it!
Show us the spirit of Philadelphia. Submit your photos that represent the spirit of Philadelphia to be included in this virtual mural, part of the Wawa Welcome America festival, before July 4 at 11:59pm. You will see your images populate within the mural and featured throughout the virtual festival.
Please follow this link: https://www.muralarts.org/artworks/phillyrising/
And click on the blue bottom at the top of that page that says “Upload A Photo”.