The City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program is a city-supported public art program that brings together young people, neighborhood residents, artists, and a wide variety of public and private institutions to create murals of enduring value that reflect the aspirations and experiences of the city's diverse communities. Since 1984, the Mural Arts Program has created over 3,000 murals and works of public art which are now part of Philadelphia's civic landscape and a source of inspiration to the hundreds of thousands of residents and visitors who encounter them earning Philadelphia international recognition as the "City of Murals."
The Mural Arts Program's free after-school and summer intensive art education programs known as Big Picture and Mural Corps are aimed at young people 10 to 21 years of age. The programs not only teach mural-making and other fundamental art skills but inspire students to become artists, organizers, and leaders in their communities.
Over the past year, youth enrolled in the Big Picture and Mural Corps programs drew inspiration from the practice and activism of Mahatma Gandhi: "We need to be the change we wish to see in the world." Through the self-portraits, students were asked to challenge their preconceptions of who they are, how the world portrays them, and how they portray themselves.
The Mural Arts Program believes that if young people are equipped with a strong sense of self, knowledge of their potential, and a connection to the world around them, they will be better prepared to make wise decisions and choose positive paths throughout their lives.