About Us

Philadelphia is a city of murals. This medium provides an opportunity for communities across the city to express their hopes, memories, and identities publically through paint and imagery. Funded by a grant from the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub, the Free Library in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education and PennDesign is excited to present Connected Messages, a series of six community-created physical and interactive digital murals.

Through near-peer mentorship (funded by the Maker Ed Initiative), youth at six Free Library locations are engaging in hands-on projects to create murals investigating themes relating to Philly, the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection. The physical and digital murals are being created over the summer of 2013 at the Widener Library, the Institute for the Development of African-American Youth Hot Spot, the Village of Arts and Humanities Hot Spot, the Heavenly Hall Hot Spot, the McPherson Square Library, and the Parkway Central Library.

Connected Messages is comprised of two elements: 4’x4’ physical murals and this interactive web application. The youth at each site creates their own 5-inch square box that sits within the matrix of the mural. After being shown how to connect an LED in the center of their box, they decorate the outside with drawings and cutouts according to the library location’s theme (e.g., kindness, community, equality, etc). When the LED in the box is turned on, the artwork for that particular box is illuminated. When a youth completes a square, s/he is given the opportunity to record themselves talking about the meaning behind their creation and the technical aspects, which gets uploaded to the page about the individual box/creator. Each mural is connected to the internet through an Electric Imp, and has its own webpage on connected.ecrafting.org where a visitor can listen to the recording about the individual creation and play with each box’s illumination.

Free Library of Philadelphia seeks to empower youth through a hands-on introduction to technology as a platform for public creative expression. We are celebrating the work of over 100 youth who have participated in maker programming at the Free Library through hosting a citywide Maker Celebration in the lobby of the Parkway Central Library on August 17 2013 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00p.m. Find our more information about how to get involved at celebration.makerjawn.org.