The Philadelphia Mural Arts Program

About [28] years ago a small group of artists and former graffiti writers initially worked under the Philadelphia Anti-Graffiti Network to paint murals in neighborhoods that had fallen on hard times. … Local leaders came to appreciate the way murals could represent the positive values of their neighborhoods, help communities feel pride and inspire more energetic commitment to social action… The murals tell tales of the past – about the injustices, sufferings and struggles of the people of inner-city Philadelphia – but they also speak to these same peoples’ dignity, perseverance and triumphs. Perhaps most of all, these walls express their dreams and aspirations. The murals testify to how people can come together to create beauty… As O’Connell puts it, “The beauty of this art lies not only in its content and the reactions it evokes (aesthetics) but also in the types of relationships it fosters among those who create it and those who encounter it (ethics).”… She gives us moral theology with a fresh face – culturally engaged with the grass roots rather than just with the academy, concerned with the real challenges faced by ordinary people, not text-book hypotheticals imagined by someone trying to get tenure.

(excerpt from a review of If These Walls Could Talk, by Steven Pope, Christian Century, 5/1/2013, 130(9), p29-30.)

On our Theological Anthropology blog, Sander Vloebergs, PhD student at the KULeuven, talks about his own project that combines theology and arts. In ‘Art, Imagination and Theology‘ he discusses Maureen O’Connell’s ‘living theology’ ‘from below’ in relation to Medieval imaginative theology as an imaginative theology ‘from within’ that inspires his own creative project.




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