The Philadelphia skies are filled with many iconic buildings and structures including City Hall’s William Penn statue, the Ben Franklin Bridge, and the towering Comcast Centers, just to name a few.
Recently, another eye-catching installation has added color and vibrancy to the City skyline: the exquisite exterior mural that adorns the west façade of The Crane apartment building.
The result of the collaborative efforts of The Crane, the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation (PCDC) and Mural Arts Philadelphia, the mural was the brainchild of a team of talented artists, one of whom is multimedia visual artist Chenlin Cai.
A native of China, Cai received his MFA from two world renowned universities in the fine arts: the Tsinghua University in China and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. Currently a resident of The Crane, Cai tapped into the history of Philadelphia’s Chinatown to find inspiration for the mural entitled The Past Supporting the Future.
To tell the complex story of Chinatown’s formation, challenges and resilience, Cai envisioned a flock of traditional paper cranes flying through significant events of the community’s history until they form a real crane that soars gloriously above everything else.
Transforming this concept from a simple sketch into a multi-story mural on the side of a high-rise apartment building was no easy task. Cai, along with Philadelphia-based artists Eurhi Jones and Yvonne Lung, relied on a diverse team of talented artists, interns and volunteers to bring the initial idea to life.
In addition to the 54-foot crane centerpiece, the mural also features an intricate background which symbolizes Chinatown’s past, present and future. Completed in 2022, the mural has had a profound impact on both the residents of this Center City neighborhood as well as the entire city. It not only showcases the vision, passion and dedication of the team of artists, interns and volunteers who brought it to life, it also reflects the community’s everlasting spirit.
These days, Cai is always happy to chat with friends, neighbors, and community members about the significance of the mural. His mural arts projects are spread across many Asian communities in Pennsylvania, and he remains committed to using this medium to promote Asian culture. One of his more recent works can be found on the interior of The Crane where the PCDC offices are located. Cai says it’s been a truly amazing experience to actually live in a building that features his artwork.
You can visit The Crane today to learn more about this amazing mural and its luxurious apartment residences. To schedule a tour of this unique and artistic community, contact us for more information.