Mayor Michael A. Nutter and City officials dedicated a new mural, Staircases and Mountaintops: Ascending Beyond the Dream, at the Martin Luther King Recreation Center located at 22nd Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue. The mural depicts the critical role Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. played in the civil rights movement in America, and features one of his well-known quotes on the struggle for equality.
“The community at the Martin Luther King Recreation Center passionately advocated for a mural that honored the great leader from which this facility draws its name,” said Mayor Nutter. “After seeing this new addition to Philadelphia’s mural landscape, it is clear they succeeded. This momentous artwork is yet another chapter in the story of the revitalization of the MLK Recreation Center, the neighborhood in the City’s 22nd Police District, and the entire North Philadelphia community. It would not have been possible without the work of participants in the Restorative Justice Guild Program at Mural Arts – one of many initiatives in which the City has invested that provide job skills training and resources to returning citizens. Projects like this mural provide so much more than visual beauty; this one has provided opportunity and hope for a fresh start for young people that were previously on the wrong path in the prison and juvenile justice system. I am proud of what they have accomplished.”
The mural was produced through a partnership among Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (PP&R), the Philadelphia Prisons System, the Mural Arts Program (MAP), and the PhillyRising initiative with input from local residents, recreation staffers and youth. The mural was created by MAP Restorative Justice Guild Program participants, muralist Willis Humphrey and ceramic artist Jonny Buss.
“This mural is a stunning piece of visual art that beautifully honors the legacy of the Civil Rights movement and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” said Michael DiBerardinis, Deputy Mayor for Environmental and Community Resources. “The installation of this breathtaking mural serves multiple purposes: provide art lessons to our youth, help inmates make a positive contribution to the city, and provide inspiration to a community.”
The Staircases and Mountaintops: Ascending Beyond the Dream mural dedication is the highlight of the 2014 iteration of Mural Arts Month, a month-long celebration of the Mural Arts Programs’ work to transform individual lives through art and revitalize the visual fabric of Philadelphia. For a full list of events and programs, visit muralarts.org or follow along on Twitter or Facebook.
“The project at the Martin Luther King Recreation Center embodies our motto for Mural Arts Month: ‘Art Ignites Change’. The Restorative Justice Guild Program at Mural Arts emphasizes the reclamation of civic spaces, develops the competency skills of returning citizens, and uses art to give voice to people who have consistently felt disconnected from society. We are very proud of this project and the Guild Program,” said Jane Golden, Executive Director of the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program.
MAP’s Restorative Justice Guild program is a collaboration with the Youth Violence Reduction Partnership to bring together young adult offenders on probation in the Philadelphia Prisons System with artists, local citizens, victims’ groups, advocacy groups to teach real-life job skills to participants, restore public spaces, and improve employment opportunities for those in the program. Participants learn mural restoration, construction and safety standards, landscaping and traditional mural-making techniques in addition to other job-readiness training.
Funders for the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center mural include: the Philadelphia Prisons System, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, the Hummingbird Foundation, JP Morgan Chase, Bryan Weingarten, the Lenfest Foundation, and I.B. E. W. Local 98.