What I Can Add

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I am, first and foremost, a person of words. They make me feel and respond more deeply than images or sounds or smells. I had to find a way to insert words into this highly visual representation, a way to make these murals mine and to set apart what I’m doing from what already exists.

I figured this problem out by emphasizing the importance of connections. I used the murals as my entry point, the first glimpse through the peephole into a bright and vibrant world. From there, I searched. I used the information I gleaned about the murals to delve deeper into the group, time period, or movement they represented. If my mural focused on issues of insecure housing, I looked into homelessness in Philadelphia and learned about its history and present condition. If the mural was about sobriety and survival, I looked into drug abuse in Philadelphia, stumbling upon “the Badlands,” and learning about the lives and experiences of a section of the city of which I’d never even heard, much less to which I’ve been.

In this way, my project does work that other mural collections do not. I wanted my project to be more than art collection – I wanted it to be insight and emotion and history and intimacy. By connecting the art to the lives it represents, the murals become so much more than things of beauty. They become dynamic expressions of the city, a realtime record of what people feel and care about.

~ by Katherine Riga on December 15, 2015.

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