The Mural Arts project was a bigger success than its creators imagined.
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Philadelphian Conrad Benner, who curates art and ideas via the long-running blog Streets Dept, partnered with Mural Arts to engage the public around policy issues that could be addressed by President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris during the first 100 days of their administration. Launched on Jan. 24, the poster project initially comprised ideas from 10 local artists. Images were made available for free download, and prints were distributed at neighborhood events. Today, three new posters from three new artists join the collection.
Ed note: The views and opinions expressed are those of the artists and do not necessarily reflect the position of Billy Penn.
This project was created to spur continued civic engagement at a time when change is possible at the federal level. The overwhelming response to our first 10 posters was both a relief and an energizer. It led us to commission three more artists to make three more posters around issues they care about. The positive response wasn’t just online — we’ve had constant lines at all of our free poster handouts so far. Each provided an opportunity to talk mask-to-mask with community members about these crucial issues, and the ways we can push the Biden/Harris administration forward.
My biggest surprise so far is the lack of any real pushback on any of the issues promoted in the project. I saw some folks on Facebook debating the likelihood of rent/mortgage cancellation, and there was one (totally expected) article from conservative media outlet The Federalist, which discussed our poster project without even showing the posters.
In all, these posters demand humanity. They demand equality. And they’re a great reflection of policy ideas that I think a majority of this country would like to see.
Over the last year, I’ve seen countless posts about teachers that contracted COVID-19 and lost their lives. We live in a space that treats teachers like glorified babysitters. They deserve more money, more support, and should be kept front of mind when discussing the full reopening of schools. People love to bring up how children are low risk when it comes to getting COVID or having bad symptoms — but they will not be the only ones in the classroom. Teachers need to be taken into account; their health and safety should be prioritized.
Marian Bailey (she/her & they/them) is a self-taught visual artist located in Philadelphia. Her mediums of choice are digital art and acrylic paint. She loves creating large scale murals and smaller digital pieces. She creates bold colorful illustrations and portraits of people, both known and imagined.
Harm reduction is an alternate way of approaching drug use in society. The term describes the practices, policies and programs aimed at reducing associated harm. It can include naloxone to reverse overdoses (and prevent death), sterile syringes to prevent the spread of HIV and other blood-borne diseases, and safe consumption sites (where people can use drugs under supervision, and access services — including treatment options). People who use drugs deserve services and resources that meet them “where they’re at,” whether that is actively using drugs, or attaining abstinence.
Lisa Kelley (she/her) is a trauma-informed artist who is interested in the connection between art and social change.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforment (ICE), has been used by the government as a xenophobic and racist weapon to target, terrorize, and cage members of immigrant communities. Being a first-generation Peruvian-American born to immigrant parents, I resonate with the agony the agency has caused the Latinx/e community in it’s immoral separation and deportation of our people. The new administration needs to abolish ICE urgently; it never should have existed in the first place.
Melita Tirado (he/they) is a queer Peruvian-American digital illustrator based in Philadelphia. In 2019, they graduated from the University of the Arts with a BFA in Illustration. His work explores themes of queerness, gender in fashion, emotion, and comfort.