For just a few weeks, a mural that was once hidden inside on the second floor of 1801 Christian Street became visible to the public, as the building was torn down to make room for new residences. The mural, painted by Shira Walinsky and Adam Carrigan, was an interactive map of Philadelphia. During a Design Philadelphia workshop hosted by Philly Works, viewers could use sticky notes to stamp symbols on, and then stick it to the wall, pointing out certain issues in their neighborhoods that they care about or want to see resolved.
When you think of buildings being torn down, it usually is accompanied by a feeling of negativity. The mural being suddenly revealed to the public created a positive buzz around the community and for passersby. It also received lots of attention from local Philly blogs. This gave us an idea… What if we were to do more murals inside vacant buildings? Creating a resurgence of activity in underutilized spaces. Perhaps we could even plan to do these murals spontaneously in places where we know buildings are coming down.
This reminds me of an organization in Brooklyn called No Longer Empty, a non-profit that creates site-specific public art exhibitions, always free and open to the public in underutilized communities and neighborhood spaces.