Public Stories: Jane Golden and the Philadelphia Mural Arts

Thursday, November 21
7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
The Conference Center at Penn State Great Valley
Free. Registration required. To register, click here.

"Stories well told will shine transformative light into dark corners" is one of the core values of the Philadelphia Mural Arts program. Jane Golden, founder and executive director of the program, will talk about the narratives and community processes behind murals and the impact this unique program has had on Philadelphia and world-wide.

Jane Golden has been a driving force for the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, overseeing its growth from a small city agency into the nation’s largest public art program and a model for community development and restorative justice across the country and around the globe. Under Golden’s direction, the Mural Arts Program has created more than 3,600 works of public art through innovative collaborations with community based organizations, city agencies, non-profit organizations, schools, the private sector and philanthropies.

In 1984, Golden was hired by the Philadelphia Anti-Graffiti Network to encourage graffiti writers to refocus their energies and talents on mural painting. The Anti-Graffiti Network became the Mural Arts Program in 1996, with Golden serving as director. Today, Mural Arts acts as both a city agency and a nonprofit organization, and has fostered the creation of more than 3,000 murals.

As the program developed, community engagement became a key component. Mural painting gave local artists a chance to refine their skills, and allowed neighborhood residents to share stories, traditions, and culture in a lasting way. Educational programs were established to help at-risk children and teenagers build self-confidence and discover new ambitions by creating murals. Similar programs are offered at local prisons and rehabilitation centers.

Golden’s personal and professional mantra has been, “Art ignites change.” Over the past 30 years, Golden has connected the process of muralism to a multitude of community and public outcomes. In partnership with a range of city agencies, she has developed innovative and rigorous art education, restorative justice, and behavioral health programs serving young people, youth and adult offenders at area prisons and detention centers, and individuals suffering from trauma, mental illness and addiction. These programs have made it possible for thousands to experience and witness the power of art to connect young people to their communities and to opportunities for their futures, to break the cycle of crime and violence, and to bring about healing in individuals and communities affected by behavioral health disorders.

Golden has been honored with the Award for Social Justice from the Philadelphia Alliance, the Hepburn Medal from Bryn Mawr College, and the Moore College of Art Visionary Woman Award, among others. Golden was named a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania by Governor Edward G. Rendell, and has received numerous awards for her work to engage young people and improve city neighborhoods through art. In 2007, she was named as one of the “75 Greatest Living Philadelphians” by the Philadelphia Daily News.