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Philly Scientist Spearheads New Mural Connecting Philadelphians To Life In Our Delaware River

May 12, 2023

It’s the start of mural season, Philly! And what an incredible project to look at today, a new mural finished this week in the Fishtown neighborhood that’s connecting Philadelphians to their aquatic neighbors just a few blocks away in the Delaware River.

The brainchild of a Philly scientist and Vice President of The Fishtown Neighbors Association, Dr. Sarah McAnulty (yes, the local scientist who’s also a street artist) and created with Philly artist, Sean Martorana. The mural was painted on the 115-feet wide and 13-feet tall retaining wall of a neighborhood public park located at Norris Street and Trenton Avenue. It depicts the kinds of aquatic life found in Philly’s largest body of water.

In celebrating the biodiversity of the Delaware River, the project aims to encourage ecosystem stewardship. Which basically means to inspire people to think about our natural environment and the lovely little wildlife that inhabit it when making personal decisions (like not throwing away litter in the gutter) and when voting or advocating for more collective protections for our environment.

This project had many partners that helped bring it to life, including The Fishtown Neighbors Association (FNA) and Kensington Creative & Performing Arts High School (KCAPA). In fact, Sean worked with students from the local high school as a mentor sharing with them about his career as a working artist. And the students got hands-on experience too, helping Sarah and Sean to paint the mural!

“Art has the power to make change, which is why this project is so powerful,” says Regina Feighan-Drach, Director of Community Partners/Student Activities at KCAPA. “Thanks to the FNA, this mural is giving our students the opportunity to make a positive impact on their lives and the lives of others. Everyday our students are going to be able to see their work and hold their heads up high. We are so proud of them and the mark they’ve made on this community.”

The mural will also feature a QR Code that passersby can scan to get an interactive science education! This is created in partnership with Skype a Scientist. “Using QR technology, people will be able to interact with the mural using their phone to unlock a more in-depth view and knowledge into the Delaware River’s biodiversity,” the project’s press release reads. “Skype a Scientist is consulting on the scientific content of this mural, highlighting plants and animals that live within the bounds of Fishtown. ”

“Our mission is to create a vibrant, thriving and unified Fishtown and this project exemplifies that in spades,” Sarah says. “The unification of science education, beautification, art and the mentoring of local high school students is the perfect combination to enrich and improve our community. We are so proud of how this project has come together and can’t wait for everyone to enjoy this meaningful piece of art every day.”

Love this project and mural so much. Congrats to all involved!

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