Founder, Executive Director, Mural Arts
Jane Golden has been the driving force of Mural Arts Philadelphia since 1984, overseeing its growth from a small city agency into the nation’s largest public art program, a global model for transforming public spaces and individual lives through art. Under Golden’s direction, Mural Arts has created over 4,000 works of public art through innovative collaborations with community-based organizations, city agencies, nonprofit organizations, schools, the private sector, and philanthropies.
Initially hired as a young artist by former Mayor Wilson Goode to address Philadelphia’s widespread graffiti issue, Golden reached out to graffiti writers to redirect their creative energy and talent toward collaborating with the City through muralism. The murals transformed neighborhoods that had long suffered from years of neglect, and the process transformed the way that the graffiti writers saw themselves: as artists. In 1996, Mural Arts was reorganized under the City of Philadelphia Department of Recreation, and Golden was made Executive Director. At this time, she established the Philadelphia Mural Arts Advocates, a nonprofit organized to raise funds and provide support to the program.
In the decades since, Golden has connected the process of muralism to a multitude of community and public outcomes. In partnership with a range of city agencies, she has developed groundbreaking and rigorous programs that work through art to make strides in youth education, restorative justice, and behavioral health. These programs have resulted in Philadelphia communities that are more connected, more economically stable, and more trauma-informed, among other outcomes. Golden has also overseen a series of increasingly complex, ambitious, and award-winning public art projects, as well as launching the knowledge-sharing Mural Arts Institute in 2017.
Sought after nationally and internationally as an expert on urban transformation through art, Golden has received numerous awards for her work, including the Philadelphia Award, the Hepburn Medal from the Katharine Houghton Hepburn Center at Bryn Mawr College, the Visionary Woman Award from Moore College of Art, the 2012 Governor’s Award for Innovation in the Arts, a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania Award from former Governor Edward G. Rendell, the Adela Dwyer/St. Thomas Peace Award from Villanova University, LaSalle University’s Alumni Association’s Signum Fidei Medal, an Eisenhower Exchange Fellowship Award, Philadelphia Magazine’s Trailblazer Award, the Philadelphia Public Relations Association’s 2016 Gold Medal Award, the 2016 Paul Philippe Cret Award from the American Institute of Architects, the 2016 Woman of Influence Award from Pearl S. Buck International, a Woman of Distinction Award from the Philadelphia Business Journal, and the 2017 ACE (Mentor Program) Person of the Year Award. In 2018, she received the Anne d’Harnoncourt Award for Artistic Excellence from the Arts + Business Council of Greater Philadelphia, and the Dare to Understand Award from the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia.
She has co-authored two books about the murals in Philadelphia and co-edited a third, Mural Arts @ 30 (Temple University Press, 2014), published on the occasion of Mural Arts’ 30th anniversary. Golden is referenced in publications around the world, and is an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania. In addition, Golden serves on the Mayor’s Cultural Advisory Council, the Penn Museum Advisory Committee, and the board of directors of The Heliotrope Foundation. She holds a Master of Fine Arts from the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, and degrees in Fine Arts and Political Science from Stanford University. In addition, Golden has received honorary PhDs from Swarthmore College, Philadelphia’s University of the Arts, Widener University, Arcadia University, LaSalle College, Haverford College, Rosemont College, Villanova University, St. Joseph’s University, and Drexel University.
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