Philadelphia based muralist, Eric Okdeh, began creating public art in 1998. After receiving his BFA in painting from Tyler School of Art, Eric chose to focus on socially engaged public art exclusively.
As part of his process, Eric has facilitated art and mural making workshops with teens and adults, and classes with men incarcerated at SCI Graterford Prison, and people in inpatient and outpatient recovery programs. These classes serve as a vehicle for skill building, leadership and teamwork excercises, which culminate with major mural projects. Eric has found that the most successful murals provide a sense of inclusion and accomplishment among its participants which then empowers them to take ownership in the work.
Community driven Public Art has the ability to provide a voice to those who feel disenfranchised and powerless. Eric has created multimedia projects tackling difficult subject matter, such as gambling, addiction, mass incarceration and overcoming the stigma of mental illness. Going into communities to conduct interviews, and using art as a means to gather personal narratives, he is able to bring their stories to life and create a dialogue that is cathartic, and promotes empathy and understanding. The use of technology and social media platforms allow the larger conversation to continue beyond the completion of the physical work.
Eric has over 100 public art commissions throughout the Northeast United States as well as murals in Wailuku Hawaii, Seville Spain, Amman Jordan and Sandefjord Norway.
He is proud to have created public art for the past 20 years with Mural Arts Philadelphia, and multiple Percent for Art programs and Public Art Organizations throughout the United States and the world. His work is featured in seven books about Public and Mural Art.
2001 BFA, Tyler School of Art, Graduated Cum Laude Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
1997 Phila. High School for Creative & Performing Arts Graduated with Honors in Painting
2015 “Tribute to Dox Thrash Revisited” 1631 Girard Avenue, Phila PA
2015 “Fables of Fortune” 7th and Wolf Sts. Phila, PA
2015 “Beyond the Wall” series of 35, installed and exhibited citywide, Phila PA
2014 “City of Innovation” Municipal Services Building Innovation Lab, 15th and Arch Sts. Phila PA
2014 “Settlement House Roots” Frankfort Ave and Master Sts. Phila PA
2014 “Azraq” Art For All 2014 Amman, Jordan
2013 “Art Makes Me Confident: A Youth Artistic Rebuttal” 41st and Lancaster Ave. Phila PA
2013 “Above & Beyond” Broad and Cambria Sts. Phila PA
2012 "Na Wai 'Eha" Main and Market Sts. Wailuku HI
2012 "How We Fish" 8th and Cherry Sts. Phila PA
2012 "Family Interrupted" Germantown Ave and Dauphin St Phila PA
2011 "The Community Action Center" District Attorney's Office Phila PA
2010 "Biomimicry" Poligono San PabloSeville, Spain
2010 "Changing Seasons, Lasting Symbols" City Hall Courtyard Phila PA
2010 "Interactive Outdoor Classroom" 8th and Cumberland Sts Phila PA
2010 “Sacred Spaces” Dickinson and Marsden Sts Phila PA
2009 “This We Believe: Living in the Presence of History” Multiple Sites Phila PA
2009 “From Behind the Mask” 52nd and Master Sts Phila PA
2008 "Transformation" 41st and Market Sts Phila PA
2008 "Restoration" Lindley Ave, Hutchinson St Phila PA
2007 "Gault @ 40: Rights and Responsibilities" 18th and Vine Sts Phila PA
2007 "Forgiveness" 13 St and Erie Ave Phila PA
2007 "It Takes One Person (Rosa Parks Tribute)" 61st and Pine Sts Phila PA
2006 "All Join Hands: Myers Recreation Center" 58th and Kingsessing Ave
2006 "The Value of Family (NET)" 5th and Spring Garden Sts Phila PA
2006 "The Academy Oath" Christian Academy 58th and Kingsessing Av Phila PA
2006 "Our Brothers Place" 10th and Hamilton Sts Phila PA
2005 "La Cancion de Mis Recuerdos" 185 W Tioga Phila PA
2005 "The Royal Theater" 16th and South Sts Phila, PA
2004 "History In Motion" 3rd and Girard Ave Phila, PA
2003 "Mural In Motion: Tribute To Eduard Muybridge" Race St I95 Onramp Phila. PA
2004-Present [SCI-Graterford Prison Mural Program] Instructor, Lead Muralist
Leads a group of up to 20 inmates to design and create works of public art for the City of Philadelphia as well as within the institution. Murals are painted on cloth panels inside Graterford Prison and then installed at various locations.
- Developed a classroom/studio environment that enables and encourages the men to work as a team and accept leadership roles within the group
- Extended the program to the Prison's Mental Health Unit. Members of the classvolunteer to lead and facilitate weekly paint days with a revolving MHU population
- Created close to 20 works of public art within Philadelphia and inside the Institution
2003-2009 [Mural Corps Program] Instructor, Lead Muralist
Led groups of 10 local High School students for 4 sessions of 10 week classes a year. The goal is to create various personal and public works of art within Philadelphia.
- Prompted and encouraged Youth to work as a team toward a common goal and facilitate theme and design meetings within the communities we serve.
- Developed and implemented various lesson plans focusing on strengthening internet literacy, teaching Photoshop and photography skills, as well as skills necessary for conceptualizingand fabricating large scale multimedia works of public art, and working with individual communities.
- Created 12 large scale multimedia murals throughout Philadelphia.
2003-2005 [Big Picture Advanced Program} Instructor
Worked with 2 groups of 10 High School students, for 8 weeks sessions to to design and paintlarge scale canvases of varying themes.
- Encouraged working together as a class toward a goal, and develop a sense for constructive criticism among peers
- Developed a curriculum to teach the basics of Photoshop to a group of beginners, then how to utilize those skills as a group to create a large scale work.
- Developed an advanced Photoshop Curriculum for returning students, promoting a more professional design aesthetic.
2015 Beyond the Wall Philadelphia City Hall Visitor’s Entrance, PA
2015 Beyond The Wall Eastern State Penitentiary, PA
2015 Beyond The Wall Connelly Collaboratory, Nesbitt Hall Drexel University, PA
2015 Beyond The Wall Philadelphia Art Alliance, PA
2014 Prison Obscura Haverford College, PA
2013 Beyond the Paint: Philadelphia’s Mural Arts PA Academy of Fine Arts Phila, PA
2012 Family Interrupted Community Voices Gallery, Phila History Museum @ Atwater Kent Phila, PA
2009 Styles May Vary Urban Outfitters HQ Navy Yard Phila, PA
2009 Styles May Vary Anthropologie Gallery Rockefeller Center NYC, NY
2009 Albert M. Greenfield Restorative Justice Exhibition The Thomas Eakins House Phila, PA
2004 Self Portraits (Group Exhibition) Plastic Club Phila. PA
2001 Works on Paper Nexus Gallery Phila. PA
2001 Solipsist BFA Exhibition Tyler School of Art Elkins Park, PA
2001 Senior Studio Exhibition 2001 Market Street Corporate Building Phila. PA
1999 Exhibition of New Work Mentors Gallery Jim Thorpe, PA
2014 Mural Arts @30
Editors: Jane Golden, Donald Updike
Publisher: Temple University Press
2012 If These Walls Could Talk: Community Muralism and the Beauty of Justice
Author: Maureen H. O'Connell
Publisher: Liturgical Press
2009 Mural Art #2: Murals on Huge Public Surfaces Around the World from Graffiti to Trompe L'Oeil
Publisher: Publikat Verlags Und Handels Kg -Hardcover
2009 Visual Restoration
Publisher: Roland Printing
2007 My North Philly: Neighborhoods. Murals. Stories.
Author: Maria Moller
Publisher: The City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program
2006 More Philadelphia Murals and the Stories They Tell
Authors: Jane Golden, Robin Rice, and Natalie Pompilio
Publisher: Temple University Press -Hardcover
2002 Philadelphia Murals and the Stories They Tell
Authors: Jane Golden, Robin Rice, and Monica Yant Kinney
Publisher: Temple University Press -Hardcover
Awards and Honors
2012 Hui No'eau Artist in Residence Maui, HI
2009 Citywide Mural Competition Winner
2001 1st Annual Nexus Gallery Graduating Artist Exhibition Winner
©2015 Eric Okdeh