by Jonathan Laidacker
At 86,000 square feet and over a half-mile long, How Philly Moves is by far the largest community mural ever created by the city of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. The mural is composed of images taken by photographer Jj Tiziou as part of his on-going project of the same name. Twenty-six larger-than-life dancers flow across the ‘canvas’ of terminals C through F at the Philadelphia International Airport.
I was the lead muralist in charge of translating Tiziou’s photographs into completed mural paintings along with my seven full-time assistants. Charles Newman, Thomas Walton and Laura Velez were fellow classmates of mine in the MFA program at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Tjai Abdullah, Virgillio Perez and Anthony Peel came to the project from our Restorative Justice Program, which is a program dedicated to provided employment opportunities and job training to ex-offenders. You may also remember Anthony from a January/February 2011 article in The Artist’s Magazine titled “Cooperative Painting: Mixing Street Smarts with Fine Art.” Finishing up our core group was Efrain Herrera, a veteran muralist with the program.
Throughout the project we invited people into our center-city studio to participate in community paint days where individuals could help us to lay in our under-paintings by way of a giant paint-by-numbers. Through this process we were able to involve more than 1,000 individuals in the painting of the mural, making it the largest community project of it’s kind in a city already well-known for it’s community art work. ~Jonathan Laidacker