From Mural Arts
Artrepreneurs student Kenny Berrios pitches product to Mural Arts staff member Jameson Paige.
The 18th floor office of the Philadelphia Foundation was packed Tuesday night as young artists and their teachers milled about in front of paintings, collages and textiles.
A marketing adviser drilled a student on what really made his clothing brand unique and mothers snapped group photos on their camera phones. The works exhibited are the fruits of a year of Mural Arts' two teaching initiatives, "Artrepreneurs" and "Art Education."
The showcase highlights the collaboration at every level between young artists and their teachers. For students Kenny Berrios, 18, and Samantha Nieves, 17, their project Wolconic represents a synthesis of artistic inclination, fashion innovation, and marketing know-how. They are part of Mural Arts' Artrepreneurs program, which, in collaboration with nonprofit Startup Corps, teaches students about translating artistic pursuits into economic opportunity.
At the event's opening, mentors encouraged their charges to prove their marketing mettle by pitching to the event's guests. Tenaciously, the students explained what separated their brand from the rest, what gap it filled in the fashion world. In their elevator pitches, one could see the next business leaders of Philadelphia. The skills here were truly empowering, and on display, inspiring.
Works from Mural Arts' Art Education program were hung in the hall outside the conference room. On one wall, Marcus Balum's digital photo collage was surrounded by the work of his students, which emulated his conceptual medium. Patty Berrara's mixed-media piece hung alongside paintings from her students, each subject culled from dreams and memories.
Jane Golden, executive director of the Mural Arts Program, believes Mural Arts' various initiatives give artistic voice to the city's otherwise marginalized groups. With schools axing arts programs left and right, art education in Philly is increasingly out of reach.
By creating a public stage for these works, Golden believes the program is changing public art as we know it: "The traditional view of public art is that it's done by one person," Golden said in a speech kicking off the event. "I want to shake up that vision and show that in the 21st century, public art is a collaborative process. It is a means for our youth to be heard."
If each individual piece is a rumble, then together they make thunder.
"Cut from the Same Cloth: Classroom Collaboration in the Mural Arts Program" will be on display at the offices of the Philadelphia Foundation, 1234 Market St., Suite 1800, until Friday, April 18. The gallery is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday, and is free and open to the public.
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