Fables of Fortune sheds light on problem gambling, particularly within Asian immigrant communities and their families.
The design is driven by personal narratives illustrating the cultural relevance of luck and gaming within those communities...
the challenges problem gamblers face concerning effective linguistically and culturally appropriate services...
and the emergence of predatory and convenient gambling practices as demonstrated by the development of local casinos within the past decade.
Silhouette of the casino trolley. There is an actual casino trolley stop mere blocks from this mural.
Currency Detail. Fables of Fortune is my first mural within the Mural Arts Programs' Porchlight Department. This project would not have been possible without the support, connections, and hard work from everyone at SEAMAAC, The Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services, and the Gambling Task Force.
The image of the race horses is a personal touch I added to the design as a window into my own experiences dealing with problem gambling within members of my own family. This project was the first time I was able to be an active participant in the discussions and workshops leading up to the mural's design.
Other images appear throughout the mural that recall those discussions and interviews. One man shared that his ultimate goal was to take his winnings back to Laos and build a hotel. Many had family that they were trying to support from afar.
The mural is on the corner of 7th and Wolf in South Philadelphia. A truly multicultural part of the city where immigrants from Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Burma, Nepal, and Bhutan have settled. The currency road and languages found throughout the mural reflect these families and people.
Studio Prep.. day one
Drawing began right away for a series of paint workshops throughout South Philly
The first event was held at JFSC in North Philadelphia.
JFCS paint day
Touching up the paint day panels in my studio
I worked closely, throughout the year with students at a South Philadelphia High School, our weekly discussions and brainstorming helped inform the design. They were part of SEAMAAC's Student leadership Council. We also created a side project designing a custom deck of playing cards which delved further into the issue of of problem gambling through the internet, and sports betting.
Huge paint day in the school, with all the stakeholders in attendance.
Shongchai working on the dragon.
Paint day in the local day care where the mural appears.
Day care paint day
Paint day detail
These silhouettes were taken from a photo of a major protest that happened in Chinatown. This occurred when there were talks of putting a major casino in the heart of Chinatown. The protesters held up signs listing various social ills brought about by gambling. We had the signs translated. The signs read: crime, addiction, poverty, child neglect, spousal abuse.
A surprise visit in studio from Le Figaro magazine, based out of France. They were in town doing a piece on Philly Murals
Atlantic City detail. The seagulls flying away and the smoke motif symbolize the fleetingness of winnings.
The last paint day was held in a school, a block away from the mural. The group I worked with was SEAMAAC's Elders Council. The Elders were among the first people I spoke with about the impact of Gambling within their communities. I was glad to return with the finished design, and have people willing to participate in the painting.
Elders Paint Day
Elders Paint Day
Two of the SEAMAAC students helping with the final workshop in their School before the mural's installation.
Install day one.
It was a tight fit with the boom lift on the street.
My assistant Amira, and I knocked out the installation in in 10 days.
End of Day one
Completed May 2015