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‘My Existence is Resistance,’ New Symone Salib Mural Honors Late LGBTQ Leader Gloria Casarez

September 14, 2021

Beautiful new mural by Philly-based artist Symone Salib honors the late LGBTQ+ leader and activist, Gloria Casarez at GALAEI on Fontain Street at Howard Street in Norris Square!

Serving the Latinx community while widening their embrace, GALAEI provides services, support, and advocacy for all queer, trans, Black, Indigenous, and people of color (QTBIPOC) communities. GALAEI fights for access, opportunity, sexual empowerment, and economic justice while fighting systemic oppression, structural racism, discrimination, and white supremacy. Learn how to get involved with GALAEI here.

To learn more about this mural, I reached out to artist, Symone Salib, who sent the following:

“I was asked to create this mural honoring Gloria Casarez in collaboration with the Philadelphia Latino Film Festival, Afro Taino Productions, and Mural Arts. The mural is located in Norris square at GALAEI, where Gloria was an executive director from 1999-2008.”

“The project was part of a series murals created by latinx artists including Betsy Casanas, Calo Rosa, Dan One/DNA/MAD, The Tiana Sisters, Celso Gonzalez, and myself. The goal being to create murals in the public space celebrating the Norris Square neighborhood and organizations in the community, in my case GALAEI.”

“I was so incredibly honored to render a mural of Gloria Casarez, especially after Michelle Angela Ortiz’ mural was so sadly erased in the Gayborhood, which I believe was such a disservice to the community.”

“The words and title of the the mural were created in collaboration with GALAEI and read, ‘My Existence is Resistance.’ The mural visually displays Gloria holding a the Philly pride flag. The flowers in the background of the mural metaphorically display the seeds she planted in her lifetime that continue to bloom for the community today. These beautiful red flowers bloom on a tree called royal poinciana or in Spanish the flamboyan tree (flamboyant tree). This tree grows in the Caribbean islands including Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. I also wanted to pay homage to the neighborhood and her latinx identity with this detail.”

“As a queer person latinx woman myself, it was truly an honor to create a mural celebrating Gloria and what she has done for the queer community. While working on the mural I was able to talk with people who first handedly knew Gloria. Person after person I spoke to about her would unanimously say how she was light in the community. That she had so much drive. That she was a role model to the work they wanted to accomplish themselves. That she created a ripple effect for change. I could see the warmth in people’s eyes as they kept her spirit alive through their stories. That is something I will truly never forget and was such a special experience.”

See previous work by Symone Salib around Philly here!

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