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Artist Josh Cochran Paints Incredible New Mural with Philly’s Asian Arts Initiative

November 29, 2021

New mural this month by Brooklyn-based artist Josh Cochran located on Pearl Street between 12th and 13th Streets! Created with the Asian Arts Initiative, this mural, titled Strobe Lights, is Josh’s second in Philly and the largest mural he’s done anywhere. (His other Philly mural is on the Henry C. Lea Elementary in West Philly, by the way.)

“I strongly believe in the goals and mission of the Asian Arts Initiative,” Josh replied over email about why it was important for him to take on this project. “They are doing such good work for the community in Philly and the Asian community at large. That and the physical challenge to create something unique and at that scale were just too tantalizing to pass up.”

When I asked what inspired the mural, Josh responded: “I was going through my sketchbook and found some drawings I did over Zoom. I teach a sophomore drawing class and used the drawings from one particular session as a basis for the figures in the mural. I was really inspired by the poses which contained a lot of movement as well as moments when the figure was at rest. I wanted to convey both of these things in a dynamic composition to represent the community in and around Pearl Street. There was a beautiful quiet and also defiant tone I wanted to capture in the piece. For me, this was a visceral response to a very difficult year the Asian American community has experienced.”

The mural was painted by the artist, with support from Asian Arts staff, and through community paint days, which Josh tells us more about: “The community paint day was so amazing! I left some shapes open on the ground level as well as traffic posts on the sidewalk blank for people to fill in however they wanted. Some people really kept it neat but I was especially into the sidewalk posts that got quite messy and drippy. Halfway through the painting day it started to rain so some of the colors are gently bleeding into other colors to create beautiful, chaotic moments to look at. When I am making my art, I try to incorporate moments like this, where I’m still able to be surprised by the outcome. Everyone was really supportive and complimentary. I’m looking forward to seeing how this wall ages and how it really settles into the neighborhood of Philly’s Chinatown.”

The scale and fluidity of those figures on that small street, Josh’s color choices, and the message that’s behind it–I absolutely love this mural!

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