Details and Rendering of Gloria Casarez Mural Revealed

Rendering by Mural Arts Program artist Michelle Angela Ortiz.

Rendering by Mural Arts Program artist Michelle Angela Ortiz.

Details are emerging about a new large-scale artwork that is being created by the Mural Arts Program to honor the late civil rights leader, LGBT activist, and Philadelphia’s first Director of LGBT Affairs Gloria Casarez.

Artist Michelle Angela Ortiz is designing the mural, along with Casarez’s friends and family, to be unveiled at the 12th Street Gym on October 11 at 1 pm as part of Philadelphia’s Outfest celebration.

“We at the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program feel privileged when we have the opportunity to commemorate individuals who have impacted our city and allow their legacy to live on in an artists way,” said Executive Director of the Mural Arts Program Jane Golden. “We are pleased to be able to honor Gloria Casarez and her work to gain equality for LGBTQ members of our community.”

The construction of the mural is, indeed, community-oriented: Over 50 of Casarez’s friends and family members have already assisted in the painting of the project, and the process itself is rather interesting. Ms. Ortiz, who has created over 30 large-scale murals across the globe, transfers an outline of the design of the mural onto 5′ by 5′ squares of parachute cloth, according to a Mural Arts spokesperson. People are then invited to paint the cloth in a color-by-numbers format. The cloth is then put on the wall with a special gel and the artist paints over the seams. At the end, the mural is coated with a special sealant.

For those who are interested in the mural construction process, there is an upcoming community painting session scheduled for Friday, September 18 at the 12th Street Gym. Children and families are invited to a session from 2-3:30 pm, while members of the public are invited to a 4:30-6 pm session.

Casarez, who died in 2014 at the age of 42 after fighting metastatic breast cancer for five years, is often credited for Philadelphia’s progressive LGBT rights protections, which ranked the city number one for LGBT equality according to the HRC.

Casarez’s wife, Tricia Dressel, added that she was extremely grateful for the mural project.

“Gloria’s imprint on this city is lasting and it is our hope that her legacy will continue to inspire generations of young activists, organizers, and community members to speak out, act up, and lead the fight for social and economic justice on behalf of all Philadelphians,” she said.