Shanker+Santoleri+students=what a mural!

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A sphinx and a globe illustrate the history and geography section of the mural, Dewey’s World, by Jennie Shanker, Paul Santoleri and an army of kids–some high school from the Mural Arts Program’s Mural Corps under the instruction of Eric Okdeh, and some younger students from the James R. Ludlow School

The corner of 6th Street and Girard Avenue is too noisy for a dedication ceremony. But until it began, bunches of people milled around the Ramonita G. de Rodriguez Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia, admiring a spiffy new mural recently completed with help from a parade of people.

The mural, made of mosaic tiles and glass, transformed the boxy, municipal-brute box of a building into something that captures the eye and the imagination. Named Dewey’s World, after the 10 categories of the Dewey Decimal System (a theme suggested by a librarian), it is part of a larger project to bring art and beauty to Girard Avenue.


Among those in the Mural Corps helping to create the mural were (left to right) Nyamah Thomas, Nathan Garrett (behind her), Drew Scott, Shemise Evans and Carl Scott

Inside the library after the ribbon cutting, artist Paul Santoleri explained how his glass mosaic tree branches were designed to reflect the DNA double helix. DNA, he said, was the “most important discovery we’ve had in our existence…and lets us delve into our inner space.” He added something about delving into the inner space of the library, too.

Artist Jennie Shanker said: “One year ago, the most vibrant thing [at 6th and Girard] was the gas station across the street.” She worked with students at Tyler as well as neighborhood children from the James R. Ludlow School, Mural Corps students (an intensive arts education program for high-schoolers) and their instructor, artist Eric Okdeh to create the ceramic tile portion of the mural.

Mural Corps member Shimese Evans, a CAPA student, ended her speech saying, “As the mural will be on the wall as long as the library building lasts, the experience [of making the mural] will be with me as long as I last.

After all the speechifying (which included Free Library head Elliot Shelkrot and of course Mural Arts doyenne Jane Golden), musicians played, dancers danced and people nibbled.

For more pictures, go to my Flickr site here (it’s part of my Philadelphia set) and to Roberta’s, here.

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