Mural unveiling this Saturday, courtesy of Amir Campbell and the Arcadia Public Art program

The Arcadia Public Art program has been leaving visible footprints in town since 2017. That year a handful of Arcadia art students and local artist David Guinn teamed up to add a full-scale mural and psychedelic LED lighting to both sides of the Glenside Station underpass.

The past two years have seen the program hire a professional artist to do project-based work with students. Last year artist Yixuan Pan created the Glenside Walking Tour. This year’s hire was Amir Campbell, a multidisciplinary creative artist who specializes in portraiture. Campbell has created and sold portraits of renowned public figures, including Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Marvin Gaye, and Michelle Obama.

“Our mission was to create a project that spoke to social justice, which his work was well suited to. We wanted someone who can meet everyone where they’re at, including the suburbs,” Guinn, the perennial program coordinator, said.

A 2021 fellow for the Philly Mural Arts Program, Campbell fit the job description, and then some.

“We had a formal search process to advertise the position and solicited applications. We had more than 25 artists to choose from,” Guinn said. “He stood out for his talent, but also for his manner of working with students. He taught a class in the spring and it went really well.”

The mural, titled Birthed Out of Love, was painted on plywood before it was installed in the wooded area of campus which borders Church Road. The subject is the Morrey family of Cheltenham and the marriage between Richard Morrey, a freed slave, and Cremona Morrey, a slave.

“The subject is really the history of the land which Arcadia sits on. It features Richard and Cremona, and also William Harrison, who built the original estate, and Horace Trumbauer, a prominent local architect who designed the estate, as well as Philly’s Masonic temple and Museum of Art. Amir put himself in there as a documentarian alongside various symbols, including a beaver, mathematical formulas, and ‘STEAM’-related learning pictorials,” Guinn said.

The mural has a functionality element: it intends to enhance the quiet, wooded setting as a place for students to hang out and reflect.

“The picnic tables and grills are already there, so when you’re gathering, hopefully it inspires some questions and thinking about the history of the campus and Cheltenham,” Guinn said. “It’s a really cool spot. Our past four projects have been off-campus. This one is more focused about bringing people on campus to that spot.”

The mural’s unveiling ceremony will take place on Saturday, October 8 from 5:00 to 6:30pm. Provided will be refreshments, music, and public remarks. For more on the Arcadia Public Art program, you can visit their website here. For more on Amir Campbell’s work, you can visit his website here.

The Glenside Station underpass mural, a 2017-18 project of the Arcadia Public Art program