Brush With the Law uses the visual arts in community-based beautification projects throughout the Philadelphia metropolitan area. Projects are led by professional artists who create together with college students, socially marginalized populations (such as the homeless, incarcerated, probation, those in recovery or struggling with addiction), people assigned community service hours and volunteers from the community/neighborhoods we work in to create public art.
The experience of feeling accepted and welcomed back into the community is a powerful stimulus for change among participants and the artworks produce visual affirmations of change, transforming “blighted” spaces to reveal the strength and spirit of the community.
that by working on creative projects that serve the community, marginalized individuals and community members start to understand and recognize one another as human beings.
Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick televised on C-Span at U.S. House of Representatives recognizing Brush With the Law as an outstanding nonprofit organization.
Brush With the Law’s inclusive community uses art as a tool for social change and brings awareness to the critical social issues affecting our world today. Professional artists, students, advocates, and members of the behavioral health community work together to create meaningful changes in the lives of participants and the communities where they live.
Out on the streets is where participants need the most appreciation, and the most cheer-leading for their efforts in trying to regain a place in society. For the most part, drug addiction and mental health go hand in hand; due to similarities, this is also true for drug addiction and criminal activity. Brush With the Law quickly evolved into a community re-entry arts program that aims its focus on community service by seeking out city beautification projects.
Beautification is the process of making visual improvements emphasizing the necessity of order, dignity, and harmony.
Who works on the various projects BWTL takes on?
College students (Arcadia University, Kutztown University, Montgomery County Community College, Bryn Mawr College)
ARD Program – Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office
People in recovery from substance abuse, and other addictions
People with community hours to serve
Community members wanting to volunteer their time to a cause that engages people to work together.
All participants work creatively together on projects.
Roll Call Room, Norristown Police Station
For one of our first projects, we completed a mural that is displayed on the newly renovated Roll Call Room located inside of the Norristown Police Station. This mural is a dedication to the first female officer of the department, Lt. Patty Simons who lost .
The purpose behind this program is to inspire meaningful changes and lasting improvements in critical social issues that affect the incarcerated and those suffering from addiction and behavioral health . Our belief is that incarceration—especially for those afflicted with drug addiction—should incorporate rehabilitation. We need policies along with programming to focus on reform, not only punishment. The hidden powers the arts possess transcend all walls and limits.
For murals we often use the Polytab Method (a.k.a. “parachute cloth”). Polytab is a non-woven fabric, lighter-than-canvas material that takes on the form of the substrate it is applied to. Traditionally used in the garment industry, this fabric is now widely used in large public mural art projects.
The “parachute cloth” method makes it possible for people in all different places and spaces to participate in the creation of murals. This method makes it possible for us to take the fabric to various facilities for participants to draw and paint on and installed like wallpaper on the prepared wall surface.