Mural Arts Philadelphia (formerly Philadelphia Mural Arts Program) is the largest public art program in the US. Mural Arts engages communities in 50–100 public art projects each year and maintains its growing collection through a restoration initiative. Its core program areas—including art education, community murals, and environmental justice—yield unique, project-based learning opportunities for thousands of youth and adults.
Taking the form of a massive episodic painting along a five-mile stretch of Amtrak's Northeast Corridor, this impermanent public art project by Berlin-based artist Katharina Grosse is viewed from the windows of a moving train. Grosse, who typically uses industrial spray guns to apply brilliant color directly upon the walls, ceilings, and floors of museums, trained a team of Philadelphia residents to paint the outdoor, gritty urban surfaces that thousands of passengers zoom past every day. "The great diversity of untamed nature, found architecture, and layers of other painted expression offer an exciting and inspiring context for my work," she says. Guest-curated by Elizabeth Thomas, this project represents a radical stylistic departure for Philadelphia Mural Arts Advocates: from a social or magic realism to a hot-hued, aggressive, gestural abstraction. Mural Arts partnered with Amtrak to disseminate informational pamphlets in each train seat back, allowing train passengers to access the project website directly, as well as a phone-based audio guide with sounds and music chosen by Grosse.