Philadelphia is known as the city of brotherly love, and there are likely few programs espouse that principle more wholeheartedly than Mural Arts Philadelphia. The largest program of its kind in the nation, Mural Arts supports public art as a vehicle for community, education, social justice, and change. Founded by Jane Golden in 1984, the program helps create 50-100 murals annually throughout the city. Golden was kind enough to sit down with Route1Views and share her take on three separate murals (all easily accessible off Route 1), each representing a unique story and aspect of the program, the city, and its people.
The Mural Arts Program Inspiration
Jane Golden didn’t always know she’d work in public arts: in fact, she was an artist who thought she’d go to law school. After graduating from Stanford University, Golden moved to Los Angeles, where she encountered “glorious murals” that planted the seed for her life’s work: the idea that art isn’t contained within the walls of a gallery, but rather, that “art is for everyone.” Golden began working with graffiti writers as part of the LA Mural Program, which further reinforced this belief. After moving back to Philadelphia in the mid 1990s, Golden wanted to continue her work with public arts, but found that no such a program existed. So she approached the mayor of Philadelphia, who—to her surprise and delight—approved a public community program. Golden’s vision for the project was that “art could be a city service.” Mural Arts Philadelphia would become a place where people could request a mural, where artists could get paid for their work, and where the program acted as a bridge: between private and public sectors, community members and the government, a person’s sense of individual identity and their connection to a larger whole.
The Significance of Mural Arts