Beyond The Paint: Philadelphia's Mural Arts

November 15, 2013 - April 6, 2014

Free admission on Sundays

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Fisher Brooks Gallery, Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building

In conjunction with the Mural Arts Program’s 30th Anniversary in 2014, this exhibition showcases the cumulative work of 30 years of community engaged art-making in Philadelphia. 

Beyond The Paint: Philadelphia's Mural Arts presents archival and documentary material, including timeline-based information, interactive material, and images that are enlivened by the creation of new murals within the gallery space.

Since its inception in 1984, the Mural Arts Program has engaged thousands of diverse community members throughout Philadelphia in mural-making programs—from artists, students, and community leaders, to victims of crime and prison inmates—resulting in over 3,000 murals that have transformed the city, while highlighting the community-building power of art.

The Mural Arts Program’s efforts have earned Philadelphia  international praise as the “City of Murals,” and have helped build and sustain a vibrant community of artists in Philadelphia, many of whom are also PAFA students, faculty, and alumni. For this reason, it is particularly appropriate that PAFA is hosting an exhibition that chronicles and celebrates artistic development.

Beyond the Paint particularly highlights the participation and grassroots ethic at the heart of Mural Arts’ 30 years of practice with the addition of three artists’ installations. Temporary Services, an artist collective based in Philadelphia, Chicago, and Copenhagen, New York-based artist Josh MacPhee, and Philadelphia artist duo Megawords will produce new works that amplify and expand the program’s art practice in both form and approach.

Temporary Services has created an extended version of their popular “Self-reliance Library,” a reading space featuring a curated collection of books “designed to provoke the reader, solve creative problems, or suggest imaginative directions for a range of creative practices.” Megawords’ installation is a poetic and open-ended amalgamation of images and texts that examine the ways in which the state, the corporation, the institution, and the individual utilize ephemeral ideas such as creativity, citizenship, and imagination to produce art in the public realm.  Josh MacPhee has installed a temporary screen printing shop inside the gallery, which he will use during the run of the exhibition to create a series of collaboratively-produced “broadsheets” that collect poetry, journalism, illustrations, and personal stories from different communities. Each broadsheet will be screenprinted collaboratively in the gallery by members of these same communities, along with PAFA students and Museum visitors.

In addition to the artists’ projects, a custom-built studio space inside the exhibition will offer opportunities to glimpse Mural Arts artists at work, as well as to highlight the creative and physical processes behind some of the Mural Arts Program’s most current projects.  Just outside the gallery space, artist Meg Saligman has mounted a mural with the help of PAFA students.  Celebrating the “lifelines” of every Philadelphian, Perception and Perspective invites visitors to contribute their voices to the dialogue around art, community and place-making. 

Exciting programs accompany the exhibition, including Community Art Days, workshops, family programs and tours, programs for schools and teachers and much more!



Presenting sponsor:

Lead Corporate Sponsor:

Funded in part by Julie and James Alexandre, Joe and Jane Goldblum, the Independence Foundation and PTS Foundation. The catalogue is funded in part by a grant from the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation.

PAFA's special exhibitions in 2013-14 are supported by generous contributions from Edward and Wendy Harvey.


The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts’ public programs are funded in part by a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency).




General operating support provided, in part, by