Agitprop Ahoy! Philadelphia—A Hotspot for Political Art Lovers

Over the the past few days, “pop-up” exhibit Truth to Power has brought some of the country’s hottest street artists to the Democratic National Convention. Presented by Rock the Vote, in partnership with the #Cut50 campaign and other national and local partners, the exhibit marks the launch of the Truth to Power campaign, designed to mobilize young people around key issues they’re facing.

As you can see in the gallery of images below, those issues include police violence, rape, gender discrimination, poverty, and more.

Power to the People
Power to the People | Jessica Clark
Corporate Media Still Sucks
Corporate Media Still Sucks | Jessica Clark
Icy Signs
Icy Signs | Jessica Clark
Piñatas | Jessica Clark 
One in Five Women
One in Five Women | Jessica Clark
Destroy Patriarchy
Destroy Patriarchy | Jessica Clark
Howard Z
Howard Z | Jessica Clark
Tags | Jessica Clark


Across the city, protestors contributed some street art of their own.

Demexit | Jessica Clark

They’re in great company—according to the city’s Mural Arts Program, Philadelphia has “the world’s largest outdoor arts gallery.”

Over the past three decades, thousands of murals have been created in participation with the people and institutions in the communities where the pieces are installed. (Learn more about the process here.) DNC delegates were even invited to contribute to two murals in partnership with the Youth Violence Reduction Partnership.

In addition to these sanctioned images, there’s a thriving underground graffiti, sticker, and wheatpaste scene in the city. This work is documented on the Streets Dept blog, run by Conrad Benner, a curator, photographer, and activist. 

Streets Dept was a media sponsor for the Truth to Power show, and Benner was also involved in a citywide exhibition last year which brought a global cadre of muralists to town to create a suite of original works. Titled Open Source, this Knight Foundation supported Mural Arts Program exhibit invited 14 artists from around the world to create large-scale pieces that “explore and illuminate Philadelphia’s diverse urban identity.”

Benner gave a walking tour of several of these Open Source murals last October.

Open Source Murals Exhibit | Periscope/Jessica Clark
Truth to Power - will.i.am | Kim Spencer

At the closing party for the Truth to Power event, will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas told the crowd: “If you’re playing Pokemon, you ain’t thinkin’.” So if you’re in Philly, pry your eyes off the screen and look up. What you see might open your eyes.

Photos and Periscope video by Jessica Clark—video editing by Zac Clare. 

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