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Breathtaking New Chinatown Mural, “承前啓後 – The Past Supporting the Future,” Grabs Philly’s Eyes

November 25, 2022

Love this new mural, and chances are you’ve already seen it!

This brand new mural in Philly’s Chinatown neighborhood has received a rare amount of attention from local press and influencers, and for great reason! My eye has been on this mural as it’s been completed and the massive equipment used to install it has been removed. And even before I could walk my public-art-loving butt over there to photograph it, this mural has received so much more local news coverage than we generally see with murals. Yes, even murals this big. So let’s talk about it!

Titled 承前啓後 – The Past Supporting the Future, this new mural located at 10th and Vine Streets was created by lead artists Eurhi Jones, Chenlin Cai, and Yvonne Lung, and commissioned by the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation as part of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority’s Percent for Art Program, in partnership with Mural Arts Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation.

This mural has been three years in the making. “What is your story of migration? What makes Chinatown special? What is your vision for the future?” According to the Mural Arts’ post about project, these were the questions posed by the artists to the Chinatown and AAPI communities in the Philadelphia region. Their responses guiding the design of the now finish mural.

“Artist Chenlin Cai said the design is rich with symbolism, including real and paper cranes, that will speak to different segments of the Asian American community while also showcasing the friendship and unity between different Asian countries,” Mural Arts reports. “Surrounding the giant crane are images of contemporary Chinatown, a dragon boat team, a young girl performing the lion dance, a traditional Pipa stringed instrument, the Monkey King, a popular figure from Chinese opera, a swallow, representing migration, and some of the delicacies that make the area a dining destination. The background is composed of peony petals embossed with textile patterns reflecting some of the many AAPI cultures of Philadelphia: Japan, India, Korea, China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Tibet, Bhutan, and the Philippines.”

I think there are many reasons why this mural ended up receiving a kind of rare attention from Philly press and influencers. Part of it is, of course, its scale. New murals this big don’t come around too often. As well as the intentional community process that created it. Not to mention its location–bigger and more eye-catching than any billboard along I-676!

But this is also the most substantial mural to be completed in Philly since the Stop Asian Hate movement that ignited in 2021 (even though this project was in the works prior to that). In addition to a bold public artwork from AAPI artists in Chinatown in the midsts of a battle to “Save Chinatown” from a possible new Philadelphia 76ers Arena in the neighborhood that many have been fighting against.

It’s also just a beautiful, thoughtful new mural for Philly. And I love it!

Congrats to everyone involved. This is truly breathtaking. And a lovely way to add neighborhood-centered art to busy public thoroughfare.

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