PROJECT: Independence Starts Here
MURAL LOCATION: Hahnemann University Hospital (Intersection of Broad and Race, Philadelphia, PA
DATE: 2006-08 (in process)
WORKSHOPS: Selected workshops with teenagers and adults.
(click for selected workshop images)
Mural Arts Program Website: Upcomming events and dates
NARRATIVE: The mural is approximately 12000 square ft. and is seven stories tall in
height facing south on the Race St. side of Hahnemann University Hospital (75' x 160').
Within the design people with disabilities stand as monuments symbolizing different
actors within a diverse and extraordinary community. These people are all from
Philadelphia and of different races, genders, and backgrounds. Each person has a
disability and is an engaged contributor to the various communities he/she represents.
There is also a screen or transparent tapestry that is layered over some of the main
figures within the design. This screen has images of people with disabilities involved
in all manner of activities within Philadelphia. Many are engaged within the creative
process of making as a metaphor for growth and change. An additional element to the
tapestry is the entire ASL alphabet finger spelling with corresponding letters
underneath. Students from the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf modeled their hands for
these painted characters. The twelve hands in color spell out the word independence.
The images in the screen are a testimony to the direct collaboration between Gensler
(lead artist) and the community. Through a series of workshops and discussions, Gensler
worked to understand some of the common ideologies and experiences within the disability
community. This mural becomes a visual record of some of the people and groups within
the disability community engaged and active in their lives.