Idea:  Garden Painting is a way of making a collaborative artwork greater than the sum of its
Primary artistic medium: 2D Visual Arts


I am an artist from Philadelphia creating paintings, public art installations, and community art projects based around participation, collaboration, and processing the experiences and realities of our daily lives. Having worked for over ten years at galleries and art institutions, my goal as an artist is to make contemporary art accessible and inclusive. While my practice is rooted in collaboration and dialogue, my approach to composition is informed by the painting traditions of abstraction, formalism, and conceptualism.

I have over ten years experience leading mural projects both independently and with the Mural Arts Philadelphia. I have created several notable public art projects including 14 Movements: A Symphony in Color and Words, a mile-long temporary mural installed in downtown Philadelphia during the 2016 Democratic National Convention; Look Long and Look Good, a series of 30 portrait paintings currently installed along Main Street in Manayunk; Flowering Axes, a mural in the 5th Street Vehicular Tunnel underneath the Ben Franklin Bridge; Free Paint, a series of free participatory public art events that result in compositions and murals; and Revolutionary Philadelphia, a collaborative mural made through a process of research and discussion with local students installed on Temple University’s Main Campus.

I am currently the lead artist for two murals in the Emerald Street Underpass in Kensington, a project through the Mural Arts’ Color Me Back: Same Day Work and Pay Program, an initiative that combines participatory art-making and access to social services in a unique model offering individuals who are experiencing economic insecurity an opportunity to earn wages.

It is my aim to continue to grow my practice through the creative partnerships I am making in the community of Kensington. I intend to create Garden Painting into a viable program that can support the hiring and training of young artists from the neighborhood while offering safe activities and free access to art education to families and community members. The materials created from the activities can be used to beautify the neighborhood.

Project Description

Garden Painting is a concept for a series of free painting events in which participants contribute to a collaborative artwork that is greater than the sum of its parts. Guided by artist Mat Tomezsko and other teaching artists, participants are empowered to make their own artwork by picking imagery from a range of templates, painting the selections from a stencil, and arranging the finished elements into original compositions. Each participant takes home an original artwork of their making while contributing to a communal artwork. The material from the events is repurposed to make compositions and murals, beautifying homes and public spaces in accordance with the needs of the community.

The imagery is derived from local vegetation including flowers, fruit, vegetables, trees, and grasses. Intended to be educational as well as metaphorical, the imagery combines the concept of how the mural is made with what it represents: Just as each seedling grows into a unique representative of a particular plant based on its environment, circumstances, and chance; each painting represents the unique talents, vision, and expression of the person who paints it. No two people will paint the same plant the same way. The composition gains its power and strength when all of these different voices are harnessed together.

The events take place over 2 hours and are hosted at partner sites: community centers, resource facilities, shops, and public spaces such as parks or lots. Participants take home their original artwork. Communal artwork is produced and can be used within the community that made it.