Who We Are

journey2home artists, participants and staff in front of Home Safe mural by Ernel Martinez and Shira Walinsky. Photo by Steve Weinik.

journey2home artists, participants and staff in front of Home Safe mural by Ernel Martinez and Shira Walinsky. Photo by Steve Weinik.

Lead Artists

Ernel Martinez
As a lead conceptual artist on the team, my role explores creative methods to give youths the tools to tell their stories through art making. I use their stories as a framework to produce social artwork to engage and build dialogue around the challenges of home for youth in Philadelphia.

Shira Walinsky
My role is to co-create with artists, instructors, teachers and students. I will provide frameworks, questions and mediums for students to understand their own narratives of home. I hope to help students expand their past and present stories while helping them envision what they could become and what home could mean.

Jared Wood
I work with young people to physically transform space through art interventions, and to transform minds through conversations, compassion, and research. We build a creativity community based on that belief, that when we listen with attention to each others’ stories and learn to speak our own truth, we change how we relate to the world.

Nema Etebar

Teaching Artists

Michael Koehler
My goal is to empower the students with pride and confidence in their own story by helping them see how art-making tools can be used to portray their stories.

Derrick Taylor (JT)

Nile Livingston
I’m proud to serve with a team of dedicated individuals who are making efforts to overcome housing insecurity, and artfully document this diverse world.

Assistant Teaching Artist

Rebecca Miller
I support the Teaching Artist and Artists in the realization of their curriculum, help build a safe community for our students, and contribute my extensive experience with art making.

University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Carolyn Cannuscio
Our team is focused on helping youth tell their stories using photo-elicitation. In multiple studies- and in a range of community settings- we have found that people enjoy the process of reflecting on their lives and their worlds, using photography. Images offer an opportunity for people to connect- either by showing and telling, or by looking and listening. My hope is that our team from Penn can support those connections, so that Philadelphia youth have a chance to be heard and supported by adult mentors and role models. We all have so much to learn from youth about their journeys to home.

Carlie Hanson
As a¬†documentarian, I want to provide the space for youth to share their stories. Their stories are important indicators of the challenges and opportunities that youth in Philadelphia face. Through photo-elicitation, interviewing, and documenting youths’ stories, my hope is to provide the platform and channels to help their voices be heard.

Emily Strupp
As a future youth educator, my goal is to help provide opportunities for young Philadelphians to tell the greater community about the obstacles they face and their hopes for the future. By developing innovative graphic media through which these young men and women can tell their stories, we can help to open lines of communication that allow more voices to be heard.

Mural Arts

Project Manager
Shari Hersh
After running the Mural Corps Teen Program at Mural Arts for over 10 years, I became aware that one of the biggest challenges for many of our youth is housing insecurity. The exciting thing about this project is that it provides youth expressive opportunities to tell their story and to be part of a community working toward sharing the stories. Through art making youth often gain critical distance, and are able to re-contextualize their current situations. In making “public art” with conversation and exchange, we foster social connection through which the public can reframe the issue.

Project Coordinator
Julius Ferraro


Elisabeth Perez-Luna
As a journalist and radio producer on the team, I will use media techniques to communicate students’ stories, images, and data to broader audiences. I will engage with the community and other stakeholders to help youths navigate the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead of them.

Mike Villers
My task on the Journey2Home project was to record and process the interviews of the participants. Their stories were then edited for concise telling in audio slide shows, accompanied by personal photos of their daily lives. Additionally, I provided further materials for presentation with supporting music.

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