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.
Philadelphia Mural Arts Program presented a participatory performance and radio project by internationally recognized artist Michael Rakowitz, involving American veterans from the Iraq War and the Iraqi refugee community. Inspired by famed Iraqi broadcaster Bahjat Abdulwahed, who lived in Philadelphia as a refugee until his death last year, the project brought together recordings of Abdulwahed with other local Iraqi refugees and Iraq War veterans working with local non-profit Warrior Writers. The summer 2017 performance on Independence Mall featured Rakowitz as the host along with performances and storytelling by members of the Iraqi refugee community, and a “house band” ensemble of musicians in the Arab tradition led by Pew Fellow Hanna Khoury. The stage was designed by Philadelphia-based, Iraqi-born architect and painter Mayaddah Alhumssi. The seven-episode radio program and podcast began in April 2018 on WPPM PhillyCAM Radio 106.5 FM and community radio stations across the country in partnership with Prometheus Radio Project, and was distributed nationwide through Public Radio Exchange. The weekly episodes combined recorded elements from the live performance with studio and field recordings, accompanied by original poetry and songs by members of Warrior Writers, offering audiences an opportunity to engage with an intimate, multifaceted portrait of Iraq.
*Additional unrestricted funds are added to each grant for general operating support.*
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