NOTE: This mural has not been completed
Two murals celebrating transgender and nonbinary Philadelphians will soon be installed in the city — one on the facade of Philly AIDS Thrift in Queen Village and the other on the side of Cake Life Bake Shop in Fishtown. The murals are the culmination of a partnership between Mural Arts’ Porch Light program and West Philadelphia’s Morris Home, the only recovery program in the U.S. for trans and gender-nonconforming individuals.
“There is such an incredible history of trans leadership and organizing that gets covered up, that gets whitewashed,” said Morris Home Director Laura Sorensen. “I think that it is such an amazing opportunity to highlight all the beautiful, gorgeous things that trans-Philadelphians bring into our city.”
Philadelphia-based artists Wit López, Ali Williams, and Kah Yangni were hired through Porch Light to facilitate workshops in art-making and discussion for Morris Home residents. Williams and Yangni also designed murals based on creative input from the residents.
“We did one workshop where I asked them, ‘what do you want people to get out of this mural, what is really important about the culture of Morris [you] want people to know,’” Yangni said. “They dictated a list — they were really clear on what they wanted it to be.”
A photoshoot at Bartram’s Garden became the design for Yangni’s mural, which manifests in a drawing of Morris Home residents under a tree surrounded by flowers and plants, along with text from the list that the residents created.
The mural says, “We’re trans/ we’re survivors/ we are joyful/ we feel rage/ we are universal!” And it features two large-scale portraits of two residents of Morris Home, Tazmere Stephens (left) and Jourdyn Carter (right) surrounded by blooming floral imagery and a butterfly in flight.