The below is a response to the critique : Changing Skyline: Mural Arts Program’s entry into Fairmount Park crosses boundaries from the Thursday March 20, 2014 Philadelphia Inquirer by Inga Saffron

There is an understanding this article puts forth that is problematic- Ms. Saffron suggests that it is ok for an organization to enter a ‘blighted’ neighborhood and transform it as it sees fit, but that it is not art, and as such, should not be welcome in places where ‘real art’ belongs. This line of argument is highly prejudicial, the author does admit having her fill of murals which clearly affects the tone this piece. 

 

I, for one, would rather not see a mural on the likes of the PSFS building for example, but as someone that has worked with revitalization and outreach programs focused on art and social issues in difficult areas, to take away from the artistry of murals because they are related to social programs and maintain they are less than other art for only that reason (“The end result has always been less important than its social goals”) is classism posing as critique. A focus on social intent does not inherently ruin art – to suggest that is so would be to encourage all artists to remove social intent to create their best art. Meaningless art is just that- meaningless. The meaning is always created, by artist and viewer. 

 

This critique reminds me of critiques about the Diego Rivera murals in Detroit- nearly 80 years ago. The message was the same: How is this art- we see this every day, “whitewash the work”, forget about it, according to Detroit critics then, the murals did not belong in the sprawling mecca to industrialism and class mobility it then was. Murals were out of their class, just as Ms. Saffron suggests they are out of hers. 

 

All good art should challenge how we see the world Ms Saffron wrote. To me- the author is so very challenged by this mural and how it affects her view of the world she felt the need to write this. Therefore proving that mural work is important art. 

 

In December, 2013, I wrote a piece on the Mural Arts show at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art for the Huffington Post – Beyond the Paint: Philadelphia’s Mural Arts 

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