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Joe Boruchow and Philly Students Create New ‘Smoke Signals’ Mural in Spring Arts

June 4, 2018

New mural this month by Joe Boruchow! Titled Smoke Signals, it was created with students from Mural Arts Education‘s after-school program at North East High School led by Brad Carney.

I talked with Joe briefly about the inspiration behind the mural, located at 10th and Buttonwood streets in the Spring Arts neighborhood, as he was putting some finishing touches on it: “[The mural] is essentially about how the artist tries to put out a message to the world and hope that it gets interpreted or received. It’s also a commentary and rehabilitation of some of the distressed buildings in the area and gentrification in general.”

Joe added the following over email, “I created Smoke Signals as a response to the students’ work for Caryatids (the paste-ups on the other side of the building that the students created the previous semester). While working with the students we discussed how, even though it was a collective effort, their piece was a chance to express themselves as individuals within the architecture of the project. Smoke Signals is a reflection of that.”

“The image of a forlorn man trying to communicate from an abandoned temple on a cliff is a metaphor for the artist at work. Who will see their message? Who will respond, if anyone? And does it matter? Facing oblivion, the artist continues to produce. What is the force that drives him/her to do so? These are the types of questions I hope to bring up with the students while working on the mural.”

“Using perspective, the mural creates a fantasy window within the landscape that comments on the reuse of dilapidated architecture and the sense of an abandoned space calling out for new life. The mural is also a reminder of our place in an ongoing cycle of decline and rejuvenation.”

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