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School of Visual Arts

Penn State School of Visual Arts Alumna Commissioned to Create Work for City of Philadelphia

DNae Harrison

Penn State School of Visual Arts alumna and Southwest Philadelphia artist D’nae Harrison (’14 B.F.A.) has made her mark on the city she calls home, with one of her paintings now permanently on display at One Parkway, a City of Philadelphia building.

She presented the Philly skyline scene to the City of Philadelphia during an official dedication ceremony on July 31. Harrison was commissioned to create the piece, “Ode 2 Philly,” and painted much of it during Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney’s Centenarian Celebration luncheon in May, where guests were able to observe her at work.

The piece is 52” by 52” with oil-based paint on a canvas of wood. Harrison said her vision came to life over three days and vividly reflects the old-world charm of Philadelphia as well as the contemporary city, featuring landmark Broad Street.

“I create multifaceted works through the use of fixed color placement,” Harrison said, adding she is inspired by the late Marsden Hartley, a 20th-century American Modernist painter.  

“I wanted to show a portrait of the City representing [mostly] the future,” she said.

Harrison spent seven years developing her style and creative talent at Mural Arts Philadelphia and Penn State’s College of Arts and Architecture. She was a key collaborator in the Southwest by Southwest mural at 7th and Emily streets in South Philadelphia in 2013. 

Harrison presented her painting to City Representative Sheila Hess. “D’nae’s creation will bring joy to a lot of people who see her vision on a canvas that promotes Philadelphia as a vibrant, hip, and also historical city of beauty, innovation, and creation,” Hess said. “Her artistry brings a ray of light and passion to any room, and we truly are honored to see her work, beginning with her creative process at the mayor’s Centenarian Celebration, and now ultimately we have the opportunity to display her colorful painting.”

Story by Amy Milgrub Marshall