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Mural Arts Porch Light program and Morris Home are joining forces to create two murals in South Philly depicting the life and history of trans and non-binary citizens. Photo: Mural Arts.
Mural Arts Porch Light program and Morris Home are joining forces to create two murals in South Philly depicting the life and history of trans and non-binary citizens. Photo: Mural Arts.

Trans and nonbinary leaders to be honored with murals in South Philly

The murals will highlight the history of the nonbinary and transgender communities in the city.

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Mural Arts Porch Light program and Morris Home in West Philadelphia are collaborating to create two new murals that will represent iconic transgender and non-binary leaders in the city.

The murals will be painted on the sides of two buildings: Cake Life Bake Shop in Fishtown, and Philly AIDS Thrift in Queen Village.

The idea for the murals is to highlight the gratitude and acceptance of the history and culture of nonbinary and trans communities in the city.

“There is such an incredible history of trans leadership and organizing that gets covered up, that gets whitewashed,” Morris Home Director Laura Sorensen told the Philadelphia Gay News. “I think that it is such an amazing opportunity to highlight all the beautiful, gorgeous things that trans Philadelphians bring into our city.”

The murals will be painted in the upcoming days and will be completed for the Fall of 2021.

Murals Art Porch Light program and Morris Home are hosting a public celebration for the new murals at Clark Park on Wednesday, July 28 at 5 p.m. through 8 p.m. Residents can stop by and help paint mural panels.

The event will also include live performances by members of the trans and nonbinary community, narcan training, other fun activities, and food from small businesses, including Cake Life Bake Shop.

Wit López, Ali Williams, Kah Yangni, and Ali Williams, local artists from Philly, were hired by Mural Arts to perform the workshops and get input from the residents of Morris Home.

Williams’ mural will be dedicated to Nizah Morris, a transgender actress from Philadelphia who died in December 2002. She died from a mysterious head wound while in the custody of Philadelphia police officers Elizabeth Skala, Kenneth Novak and Thomas Berry.

Her case was never solved.

Williams believes past events involving the trans community should be present in the upcoming murals.

“Through the workshops, people felt really strongly about wanting to portray the past and acknowledge the present, and then also look to the future,” they said.

Mural Arts Porch Light projects are inspired by the change and diversity of the city. The art pieces also spark a lot of conversation about mental health, homelessness, immigration, and war.

The program, which is responsible for many murals across the city, believes that hands-on art making is effective in individual and community healing.

Morris Home, located in West Philadelphia, is the only residential recovery program in the country that specifically supports trans and gender non-conforming individuals. The nonprofit program offers help with homelessness, works towards sobriety, and offers mental health therapy for transgender and nonbinary residents.

The home is also known as a safe space for individuals where they can be themselves without the dangers of hate or terror.

Beyond the safe space, the new murals are also vital for who they represent and give a platform to, as there are not many that honor transgender or non-binary individuals.

For more information on Porch Light and Morris Home, visit their websites.

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