Philadelphia’s FIRST Juneteenth Mural Dedication! MAKE HISTORY in Germantown on Saturday, June 17th at 2pm!
Philly’s 1st Juneteenth Mural | A Celebration!
The history-making mural dedication will include:
An opportunity to meet the Muralist & their Team
The festival’s Colored Troop Re-enactors
African drum performances
An interactive MURAL art station
SOUL FOOD Martinis & Cupcakes by Tiny Cakes Bakery
Capital One Caf´e Swag!
You’ll have the opportunity to hear directly from the artist, ask questions and GET INSPIRED!
This new Mural marking ‘Freedom Day,’ the first of its kind in Philadelphia, will be unveiled and dedicated at The Germantown ArtHaus during Philadelphia’s Juneteenth Festival on Saturday, June 17 at 2 p.m.
The region’s first official Juneteenth mural is honored to be a part of the 17th Annual Philadelphia Juneteenth Festival which takes place in Germantown on Saturday, June 17th.
Designed by Custom Arts Studio’s Creative Director Keisha Whatley, the 1,100 sq. ft. Absolute Equality- Juneteenth Mural will be installed at the Germantown ArtHaus located at 6228 Germantown Avenue, which she founded.
The mural will be installed on the west side wall -facing the Johnson House, a historic stop on the Underground Railroad. “Being next to the Johnson House, and all of the other historical landmarks in Germantown made it a real ‘no brainer’ to install the mural on the ArtHaus wall. The mural, its content, symbolism and inspiration has been created to serve the community and the city at large. It tells the whole story.,” said Whatley.
She points out that the Germantown ArtHaus building was constructed in the 1860s; a time when it was legal for a human being to own another human being. “I look at the beams that form the structure of the building and remember (I am often shaken by the thought) that these planks of wood could possibly be from trees that enslaved people ran through to get to freedom.”
The Mural’s Story
Whatley said that a mural about the release from slavery brings up obvious iconography: chains, whipping poles, picking cotton, pain, etc. It was imperative that the images and story of the mural start at a time prior to the colonization of Africa. “If we are going to tell the story, let’s be sure to tell the whole story,” declared Whatley.
The themes of birth, brokenness, healing and transformation are told through five levels, with each level seen through an ever-opening symbolic vine system. The first three levels form the first iteration of the project:
African pre-history & royalty: Pre-Colonial
Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade/ US slavery
Juneteenth: Freedom, Family, a Future
The Struggle for Absolute Equality: Police brutality, racism, protests (Scheduled for 2024)
A Future of Absolute Equality Realized (Scheduled for 2024)
The Philadelphia mural was painted by nearly three dozen volunteers, local artists and more than 400 students from nearby Hill-Freedman World Academy and the Germantown Friends School during community paint days. The project was also partially sponsored by Voices Underground (event sponsor), Mural Arts Philadelphia and Capital One Café with the dedication celebration sponsored by a grant from Voices Underground.
Now that Juneteenth, which commemorates the emancipation of the final remaining enslaved African Americans in Texas, is recognized as a national holiday, Whatley said that using public art to educate and engage people in dialogue about racial equity is crucial and highly personal. “As an Indigenous (Leni-Lenape and Nanticoke) African American, it is a true honor to celebrate the holiday, the sacrifices and the spirit of excellence that our forefathers and grandmothers embodied for us to even be here today.”
The project is a part of the national Absolute Equality-Juneteenth Mural Project, which originated in Galveston, TX (the birthplace of Juneteenth) in 2021 by Muralist Reginald Adams. It has since expanded to include large-scale murals in other cities, including Chicago, Detroit, Miami, Houston, Dallas, Shreveport and now Philadelphia. Organizers say by creating murals in different communities, the project is creating a sense of connection and shared history, inspiring conversations and promoting greater unity and understanding.
MEET THE PROJECT SPONSORS
Capital One Cafe sponsored the Juneteenth component of the mural which provided resources to hire the project’s 2 assistants. We couldn’t have done it without them! Check out a video about Capital One Café at Capital One Cafés: What Is This Place?To learn more about what Capital One Cafés have to offer, visit capitalone.com/local.
Mural Arts Philadelphia sponsored the project’s installation materials and provided a donation to the project. We are SO grateful for our partnership. Learn more about Mural Arts Philadelphia
Custom Arts Studio sponsored the project’s design phase, materials, studio space for production & snacks to keep the team going! Learn more about Custom Arts Studio.
Absolute Equality Project: Learn more about the project and the other 5 cities participating at www.absoluteequality.org
About Custom Arts Studio
Custom Arts Studio (CAS) is a full service fine art and design company in Philadelphia, PA. In addition to offering custom fine art, book cover art and murals, the company offers high-quality graphic and web design services to private clients, businesses, and organizations throughout the country. Custom Arts Studio’s work has been collected by three Museums, is highly awarded, and recognized in the Arts + Culture community. www.customartsstudio.com
About Germantown ArtHaus
The mission of Germantown ArtHaus is to encourage and nurture creativity and personal growth through the promotion of high-quality community arts, wellness, education, and professional-development programming. The ArtHaus, located at 6228 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, will be a collegial place where artists can create, exhibit, and sell their work. A vibrant hub for the community, the ArtHaus will also be a safe place for our children to experience the boundless opportunities for freedom of expression the arts make possible. www.gtownarthaus.com.Keisha “I Make Everything Beautiful” Whatley, a Philadelphia-based fine artist & designer, has been the Creative Director of Custom Arts Studio since 2014. While there are many rewards of painting a large mural that will greet visitors and offer a warm hello to neighbors, it’s the sense of fulfillment that stands out the most when she thinks about the impact that the ABSOLUTE EQUALITY Juneteenth Mural will have on the immediate and extended Philadelphia community. www.gtownarthaus.com