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Mural Arts Program and Philadelphia School District Students Keep Hunger Top of Mind with Hunger-Focused Banner

Philadelphia, Pa- July 15, 2011– During a commemorative ceremony yesterday, Philabundance honored a collaborative public art project that is installed on the organization’s Hunger Relief Center, 3616 South Galloway Street, Philadelphia, Pa 19148. The project is the result of a partnership between The City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, the Writers Matter Program at La Salle University and the School District of Philadelphia. The mural banner incorporates text and drawings of The Philadelphia School District Talent Center students’ thoughts on hunger in their community.

World renowned artist Meg Saligman worked together with artist Jenna Price and Writers Matter Program Director Bob Vogel in creating a specific program for 23 students of the Northwest Regional Talent Center during the past year. During this program, students were encouraged  to express through writing and a variety of art projects what hunger in their community means to them. One session consisted of a trip to a food pantry to see how their neighbors in need acquire food. The project was meant to bring the voice of Philadelphia’s youth through both writing and art together in a final public artwork on Philabundance’s wall which would promote social change and inspire action.

“Art is such a powerful communications tool and this piece of art work depicts the meaning of hunger from the eyes of the children in our community,” said Bill Clark, president and executive director of Philabundance. “We are proud to house this inspiring and eye opening mural on our walls to remind our neighbors each and every day of our mission.”

“At Mural Arts we believe deeply in the social power of art. A project like this is so important because we get to collaborate with a wonderful organization and use art as a tool of education and advocacy.” Said Jane Golden, executive director, Mural Arts.

This project was funded by the United States Department of Education 21st Century Community Learning Centers Initiative, the School District of Philadelphia, La Salle University, Department of Education and Integrative Studies, and MLS Studios.

“The Writers Matter program believes in ’empowerment – specifically through the process of writing.   Through improving writing skills of our students we empower our students to use their inner voice to express themselves, said Bob Vogel, professor and director, Writers Matter Program at La Salle University. “As stated by one student ‘Writers Matter gives me an opportunity to imagine and makes me feel that what I say is important to others. People now listen to me and that makes me feel good.
Writing gives me a way to help others understand who I am, what I feel and what is important to me. It also makes me listen to others more carefully – that’s a new thing for me.”
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The Writers Matter program’s goal is to improve written communication skills through instructional strategies which engage and motivate middle school and lower high school students which lead to academic achievement. The process of writing provides an effective outlet for these students at a time of their lives when personal expression and having their voices heard is so important.  The Writers Matter program is currently serving over 900 students in twelve schools in the Philadelphia area.

Meg Saligman is an internationally recognized muralist whose work can be seen throughout Philadelphia. Meg created Philadelphia’s landmark “Common Threads” mural at Broad and Spring Garden Streets among others. In Philadelphia, she was the first artist to include community members in the actual mural itself and to devise a system where people from communities could easily paint the murals themselves.

During the ceremony, the students painted the final components of art, which includes a painted ribbon on the wall that compliments the art contained on the banner.  The children painted on parachute cloth to complete the ribbon. Representatives from all organizations said words of thanks and Councilman Bill Green and Rich Subbio, associate for Representative Bob Brady’s office came out to support the banner.

For more information, please contact Philabundance at 215-339-0900 or visit www.philabundance.org.

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