Family Interrupted

Submitted by Eric Okdeh

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Client: Mural Arts Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Prison Society

Location: Philadelphia, PA, United States

Completion date: 2012

Artwork budget: $60,000

Project Team

Other

Mural Arts Program of Philadelphia

Mural Arts Program of Philadelphia

Artist

Eric Okdeh

Eric Okdeh

Overview

Family Interrupted is my ongoing multidisciplinary project in conjunction with my Graterford Prison class, various ex-offender organizations, and families of the incarcerated throughout the city. Our collaborative workshops, and my subsequent mural explores the impact of incarceration on Philadelphia families.

Goals

Mural Arts and I have partnered with the Pennsylvania Prison Society, running workshops with groups of people and organizations (such as M.I.M.I.C. based in North Philly) across the city, as well as in the Prison Society, Graterford, and St Gabe’s Hall. These participants are impacted by incarceration at various levels. For example, the Graterford class and their families are looking at 20 plus years of separation, one man in my class will be behind bars for his 40th year in 2011.
These participants are impacted by incarceration at various levels.

Process

The “w” shaped wall lends itself to the narrative. The “incarcerated” right side of the wall is tucked away from view at first glance. It contains the faces and stories of ex-offenders and those still behind bars. Its about how their incarceration affected and forever warped their families, and their great sense of loss. The “family” face of the site shows the words, images, and thoughts from the men, women, and children left behind to carry on. Newly christened breadwinners raising a family on their own and maintaining relationships across great distances to keep the family together. Both sides look and reach toward each other over the center of the design that depicts visiting room life, and its fragmented moments of family interaction.



Additional Information

Family Interrupted was my most collaborative and interactive mural design to date. There are 22 QR codes to scan that will bring you to audio clips of interviews on the subject of incarceration. There was a website built to maintain oral histories of the participants and a Share Your Story portion to continue the narrative. There were multiple paint days throughout the city. The Atwater Kent Museum had portions of the mural on display for 6 months in 2012.