Philadelphians are often known for their devotion to the community, culture and perhaps most distinctively, for their sports teams. While in the thick of baseball season, Mark Stockton, assistant teaching professor in Drexel University’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media and Arts, brought that Philly loyalty to life in the form of a 60-foot mural, entitled “Score.”
The Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy’s Percent for Art Program in conjunction with Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and the Philadelphia Phillies, commissioned Stockton to create the substantial piece of art that decorates the newly constructed Urban Youth Academy of the Marian Anderson Recreation Center, 740 S 17th Street, (between Fitzwater and Catharine Streets).
The site-specific mural celebrates the history of baseball, and its impact on Philadelphia culture and community, as well as the life of Marian Anderson, whom the recreation center was named for. Anderson was born in 1897 in Philadelphia, and in 1924 she became the first African-American concert artist to record spirituals for RCA Victor, a major American recording company.
Stockton’s work takes the form of a musical score, which pays homage to Anderson’s legacy as a singer. Within the score are four different categories of imagery, each of which is represented by a different color.
“Consisting of 40 painted portraits placed upon an abstracted musical score background, the intention of the artwork is to emphasize the inter-connections of sports, art, and civic history,” says Stockton.
Blue images depict youth baseball players, with a notable emphasis on South Philadelphia teams. Green images show creative visionaries and civic leaders whose work were influenced by the game of baseball. Professional Philadelphia baseball players are illustrated in red, a fitting selection drawing a likeness to the Phillies official team color. Yellow images represent the rise of African Americans in the Negro leagues and professional baseball.
“Marian Anderson was a trailblazer, she overcame racial barriers to sing at the Lincoln Memorial, White House, Carnegie Hall and various world-renowned concert halls and that fight and spirit inspired my art greatly throughout the process.” Says Stockton. “The mural itself should serve as a reminder that hard work, dedication and hope can and will inspire change.”
Stockton is an artist who lives and teaches in Philadelphia. His drawings have been shown both nationally and internationally, exhibiting across Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles, London and Beijing. As co-faculty advisor of Drexel’s student run art organization (DART), Stockton works to engage students and encourage artistic practices outside of academics. Stockton currently teaches Design, Design for Media and Drawing at Drexel.
Mayor Kenney and other City dignitaries, as well as representatives from The Phillies and Major League Baseball celebrated the opening of the Urban Youth Academy at Marian Anderson Recreation Center Thursday, July 21.
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