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19 Feb 2012

Mural Arts Program announces details of The Roots Mural Project

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February 19, 2012 Category: Local Posted by:

ABOVE PHOTO: Mayor Michael A. Nutter (far left), Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter of The Roots, Mural Arts Program Director Jane Golden, Kamal Gray of The Roots at the announcement of The Roots Mural Project, November 7, 2011.

(Photo Credit: Steve Weinik for the Mural Arts Program)


The City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program announced several items of note today regarding the year-long The Roots Mural Project. The project was conceived to honor the legacy, achievements, and role of the GRAMMY® Award-winning band, The Roots, in the pantheon of great American bands and continuum of accomplished Philadelphian musicians. The Roots Mural Project will tell the story of The Roots – especially Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson and Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter’s founding of the band – from the genesis to the present day.


Officials announced last week that the mural will be painted at 6th and South Streets, in the South Street Headhouse District neighborhood where The Roots were founded. The building at 600 South Street is across the street from the Mural Arts Program mural Mapping Courage: Honoring the Legacy of WEB Dubois and Engine 11 at 601 South Street, by artist Willis “Nomo” Humphrey (who is part of the artistic team for The Roots Mural Project).


Artists Selected


After a national open call for artists, the Mural Arts Program selected a group of Philadelphia muralists to create The Roots Mural Project. The artistic team, known as the Amber Design Collective featuring Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, includes artists David Guinn, Ernel Martinez, Charles Barbin, Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, Willis Humphrey, and Keir Johnston. Individually, these artists have each created many varied and beautiful murals for the Mural Arts Program, but this project marks their first collaboration as a team.


“The first meeting with the artists was amazing; we shared ideas of what the final mural could end up looking like. It’s beyond anything Tariq and I ever dreamed of,” said ?uestlove. “And to have it along South Street, near the same corners we were kicked off of for playing our music is fantastic.”


The Roots Mural Project will be the latest addition to The Albert M. Greenfield African American Iconic Images Collection, a curated collection of Mural Arts Program murals throughout the city that uniquely capture the rich African American experience in Philadelphia. The Collection, narrated by ?uestlove, provides in-depth, engaging information about the murals’ themes and surrounding communities.


As part of February’s Black History Month, the Mural Arts Program is celebrating the one-year anniversary of the Albert M. Greenfield African American Iconic Images Collection with a dynamic new exhibition reflecting this extraordinary Collection. Behind These Walls: Visions of Courage, Beacons of Hope Opening Reception and Reading will take place on February 15, 2012 from 6:30 – 8 pm at Art Sanctuary, 628 S. 16th Street, Philadelphia. Mural Arts Program Executive Director Jane Golden and Art Sanctuary Executive Director Lorene Cary will be joined by a special guest, critically-acclaimed author Bernice L. McFadden, who will read from and sign her latest book, Gathering of Waters.


This moving work of historical fiction is centered on the trading murder of Emmett Till and his enduring love connection with Tass Hilson in 1950s Mississippi, and beyond. The Behind the Walls Exhibition, curated by artist and instructor Richard Watson, pays homage to the murals that commemorate the depth and breadth of the African American experience in Philadelphia. The Exhibition will be on display to the public February 9 – March 1, 2012, Monday – Friday, 10 AM – 5 PM. To learn about the Collection: The Programming Partner for the Exhibition is the Art Sanctuary.



Jane Golden, Executive Director of the Mural Arts Program said, “The Roots are such important cultural icons in Philadelphia, and we are thrilled that our students get to work on a project celebrating their history and influence. The Roots Mural Project will be a welcome addition to the Albert M. Greenfield African American Iconic Images Collection, adding yet another dimension to great stories being told through our public art.”


In addition to their participation in various events related to The Roots Mural Project, members of the band will be on hand at the organization’s annual fundraising event, Wall Ball, on Thursday, May 31, 2012, where they will be honored for their contributions to the Mural Arts Program and Philadelphia. The event will take place at Vie, 600 N. Broad Street. Tickets are available by calling 215-685-0750.


One of the most exciting components of the project is an education program called “The Roots 101,” created for students in the Mural Arts Program’s Art Education program. The Mural Arts Program’s Art Education Department partners with a diverse group of schools, social service agencies, nonprofit, and municipal organizations to provide free innovative art programming for young people. Passionate teaching artists lead classes twice a week at sites across the city.


The Roots Mural Project is rooted in engaging and empowering students to tell their stories through various medium, including drawing, photography, collage, and more. The artist team will conduct workshops with students to ascertain their areas of interest and design concepts for the mural and incorporate their ideas into the mural design. In addition, students will be part of the project programming, as attendees and, in some instances, panelists.


Components of The Roots 101 course include:


  • Special guest speakers including musicians, journalists, and more;
  • Learning about the band’s history, history of music devices, photography, photoessays, Photoshop, storytelling, book making, music and video production;
  • Creating art projects (sculptural work, mixtapes, personal narratives, collage) based on music and technology; and
  • Studying Banksy’s street art, Aesop’s Fables, Zoe Strauss’ photographic narration.




Once the design is finalized in spring 2012, painting of the mural will begin. The mural will be painted on parachute cloth material and has the potential to involve hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals who will participate in the mural-making process. Community painting opportunities will be held over the summer of 2012 so that the public can participate in the mural-making process. It is expected to be dedicated in Mural Arts Month, October 2012.


The Roots Mural Project is funded by City of Philadelphia Department of Human Services and the Knight Foundation. Further funding is provided by Lincoln Financial Foundation, Dolfinger-McMahon, National Endowment for the Arts, The Pew Charitable Trusts, Graham Partners, Verizon, TD Bank, PTS Foundation, and Hummingbird Foundation. Project partners are City of Philadelphia, South Street Headhouse District, and Sports & Entertainment Financial Group, LLC.

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