Above and Beyond is my latest mural project which promotes and celebrates the tireless and important work done by our city's social workers with a concentration on child welfare. The project was funded by Philadelphia's Department of Human Services and proposed by DHS Commissioner Anne Marie Ambrose as a way to promote understanding and address the preconceived notions of what social work entails in Philadelphia's diverse communities.
Learn much more about the details of the design here.
The mural features prominent portraits of many celebrated social workers and the families they serve. Many portraits were painstakingly fabricated in stained glass and colored mirror.
They remain highly representational and truly mark a personal high point for myself in the medium. Elements within the glass transfer seamlessly into the paint.
The glass portraits fall within 3 3'x20' "windows" set inside of faux stonework taken from the architecture of the historic 100+ year old fire house the mural is attached to.
The rightmost window features a portrait of "Julian" a young man who was a success story in the foster care system.
He trained and became a professional boxer as an adult, a serendipitous coincidence as the mural faces the site of Joe Frazier's famous gym.
12 glass portraits in studio in the span of 2 months.
The finished eye.
Portrait 2. This woman, who is now a social worker, told a particularly intense story about her life, and her moment of personal breakthrough with her social worker, as a youth in the foster care system. This story was told to teens in Wordsworth Academy residential program. You could hear a pin drop.
Mike working dilligently
Tear drops and patterns in glass
My favorite portrait of the project
We laid out each piece in studio to ensure that the measurements were correct.
ornate pattern work in the glass about Julian's portrait. The gray glass was pearlescent, and looks incredible under the sun.
Beginning work on the last glass panel.
All wrapped up.
Salaam, my assistant, worked on this part of the window. His 1st permanent glass piece
The end of a brutal day one... mapped out the glass, and ready to grind away the paint to attach the glass directly to the brick.
The glass took Just 3 days to install after the grinding and substrate work.
Middle window pre grout
Applying the grout
The dark grout really brings out all of the cuts.
Pearlescent glass doing its thing in the sun. Would you believe this is gray?
wiping away the grout dust
End of the glass installation, time to install the rest of the mural.