Philly is known as a city of murals, and next week, the whole city can get involved in creating the latest additions.
On July 28, Mural Arts Philadelphia and Morris Home are hosting a free public paint day and celebration in Clark Park (4300-4398 Baltimore Ave.) Taking place from 5 to 8 p.m., members of the public are invited to help paint panels of two future murals in a paint-by-number style.
The murals were inspired by both Mural Arts and Morris Home, the only residential recovery program in the country to offer comprehensive services specifically for the trans- and gender-nonconforming community. Wit López (they/them), one of Mural Arts’ 2021 Black Artist Fellows actually curated weekly art workshops at the latter. López, an internationally recognized, award-winning, multidisciplinary maker, performance artist, writer, and cultural advocate based in Philadelphia, led conversations that focused on healing to supplement the ongoing services at Morris Home.
Two other artists, Ali Williams (she/her) and Kah Yangni (they/them), also led workshops with residents to shape their mural designs. And now here is where next week’s artistic focuses come in: Williams’ mural will be installed at Philly Aids Thrift, 710 S. 5th Street in Queen Village, and Yangni’s will be installed at Cake Life Bake Shop, 1306 Frankford Ave, in Fishtown. The artists will paint the murals over the summer, and plans are underway to dedicate both of them officially in the fall of 2021.
About the Artists
Kah Yangni (they/them) – Kah Yangni is an illustrator living in the city of Philadelphia, PA. They make heartfelt, neon visions of justice, queerness, and joy. Their art has been shared by people like Indya Moore and Alok V. Menon, and they’ve worked with the New York Times, Vice Media, Bust Magazine, as well as with projects like the National Women’s Law Center, Rock the Vote, and the Movement for Black Lives. Kah’s recent projects include a billboard on the sacredness of trans people in Richmond, TX and participating in the First100Days project with Mural Arts Philadelphia.
Ali M. Williams (she/her) – Ali Williams is a Philadelphia-based artist and public muralist. She is interested in how visually altering a space with public art affects the surrounding environment. Ali has been a visiting teaching artist at Lycée Rochambeau (The French International School), The Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen, Moore College of Art, Fleisher Art Memorial, Project Learn School, The Hillside School, and Riverside Correctional Facility. She has worked with numerous education and community outreach programs such as Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Twist Out Cancer, Philadelphia Dept. of Public Health, The Youth Violence Reduction Partnership, and many more. Some of her clients include Zappos, Primark, Nasdaq, Marriott Hotels, The Wells Fargo Center, and Blick Art Materials. Her murals invite you inside a collaged, fabricated dreamscape of paint, mysterious beauty, and contemporary iconography. She’s interested in combining realism with abstract concepts and design to create a surreal experience. Symbolic elements, graphic imagery, and vibrant bursts of color are frequent components of her work. She is drawn to bold, color palettes, and loves to incorporate neon pink as much as possible. See more of her work on Instagram at @alimwilliams
Wit López (they/them) – Wit López is an internationally recognized, award-winning, multidisciplinary maker, performance artist, writer, and cultural advocate based in Philadelphia, PA. They are the Founder and Artistic Director of Till Arts Project, a grassroots arts services organization serving LGBTQ+ artists in the Greater Philadelphia Area.
Williams’ mural is “a memorial and life celebration of trans Philadelphians,” while Yangni’s text in the mural was collectively created through a workshop with Morris Home members. Williams’ mural also features Nizah Morris, a Black trans woman who was attacked and died from a head injury in 2002, and for whom Morris Home is named. For Yangni’s, photographs were also taken of members of Morris Home at Bartram’s Garden, and they were used as reference images to inspire the illustrations.