Skip to main content

Art at the Park

Phase One of the Rail Park is home to plants and pathways. It’s also a canvas for some beautiful site-specific public art.

Explore the past and present artwork of the Rail Park below:

Stamp of Incarceration (2015)

People at the park shop for plants with the bright red Stamp of Incarceration mural behind them.

Stamp of Incarceration was created by Shepard Fairey as a part of the Open Source Exhibition in collaboration with the Mural Arts Restorative Justice Program. The mural features James Anderson, a human rights activist and Program Administrator at The Anti-Recidivism Coalition. The portrait is based on a photo by Barbara Davidson. This mural is one of two in a series by Fairey that centers on prison reform and mass incarceration, de-stigmatizing incarceration by highlighting the stories of people who have returned from prison and become integral members of society. 

This mural was designed by Fairey, and painted on sheets of cloth by men incarcerated in Pennsylvania. 

Shepard Fairey has provided a selection of his prison reform images for free download here

Learn more about this mural

Story Wall (2018)

Galvanized steel wall with laser cut historic icons and map of neighborhood

Photo courtesy of Kate Otte

Just east of Broad Street at the entrance to the Rail Park, an 80-foot long laser cut steel wall, designed by Kate Otte and created at Cloud Geshan, reveals the industrial history of Philadelphia and the city’s legacy as the “Workshop of the World''. Based on an 1895 city atlas, the wall maps the city as it existed at the time, including logos, slogans, advertisements, photographs of building facades, signs, and product illustrations from that era, graphically translated into icons and placed in their historic locations.

The use of weathering steel in the design of the wall is consistent with other elements of the park, including the planter bases, giant swing supports and gates—a perfect visual complement to the remaining skeleton of the old railroad. 

Learn more

Dawn Chorus (2018)

null

Dawn Chorus, by Brent Wahl with poetry selected by Laynie Browne was commissioned specifically for the Rail Park by the City of Philadelphia’s Percent for Art Program of the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy.

The piece has two complementary elements:

  1. A sculpture made of a repurposed utility pole and colorful aluminum birds
  2. Poetry excerpts carefully selected to celebrate communication, rail lines, and the city as a meeting place, engraved in paver stones in thirteen languages 

Dawn Chorus is designed to spark conversation and connect the ground with the sky, using imagery of birds, threads, and transmission. It is an exercise in looking up and down as we experience the Rail Park. 

Read the Poetry Selections

Site / Sound Festival (2019)

null

Pictured: The Moon Viewing Platform by Nadia Hironaka, Matthew Suib, Eugene Lew

In October 2019, Friends of the Rail Park teamed up with Mural Arts and American Composers Forum to present the Site/Sound Festival, celebrating the past, present, and future of the Rail Park. Community workshops, panels, tours, and performances, temporary audio-visual art installations and diverse music performances brought to life a shared urban space from the tracks and thoroughfares that were once the terminus of the mighty Reading Railroad.

Check out the recap videos below!

Billboard Art Series (2020-2021)

At nighttime, lights illuminate a black and white billboard that reads "YOUR FIGHT IS MY FIGHT" in English, Spanish, and Mandarin. 3 Trucks with LED screens reading "VOTE JOBS", "VOTE SMART" drive by the street below.

Pictured: Your Fight is My Fight by Jenny Holzer

null

Pictured: #ENDCASHBAIL by People's Paper Coop and Philadelphia Contemporary

Long time Callowhill residents and artists, John Struble (also an FRP Board Member) and Michelle Liao, approached Friends of the Rail Park in 2020 with the idea to lease the billboard at 12th and Callowhill Streets to display local art. Through a contract with Clear Channel, Friends of the Rail Park has leased the billboard with support from individuals and organizations, like Philadelphia Contemporary, who sponsor the space to display artwork. 

The billboard has displayed work by Jenny Holzer, the People’s Paper Coop, Cynthia Dewi Oka, and more.

Be the first to know about news, events, and progress.