I am a teaching artist. Through nonprofits like Thrive Collective and Groundswell, I work with school kids and communities to create murals. NYC is an art capital of the world. Yet hundreds of our public schools don’t have art programs, which is a shame. Expression is a fundamental part of human nature. We are visual beings. We are communicators. Furthermore, art trains us to observe and think creatively. It exercises our mind in ways different from math, science, sports, etc. Art must be a part of our education.
Design Your Future
Seniors of South Bronx Community Charter High School partnered with Thrive to create a mural celebrating their new building. We explored Afrofuturism, imagining a tomorrow built on the foundation of today. The school’s motto: Skill up. Design your future. Be epic.
The mural wall is divided in two by a column. The left side represents the vibrant present-day Bronx: buildings along the Grand Concourse, Yankee stadium, a tiger to represent the Bronx Zoo, homelessness and poverty are acknowledged with the crumbling building. The right side represents the future: a phoenix, symbol of resilience, takes flight into a world filled with futuristic buildings and flying transportation. The future is exemplified by a student’s fiery crown, commemorating her mastery of STEM and exploration of the universe. At the center of the mural is the new school, a launch pad for the student springing into the future. He is receiving the ball being passed on to him from the present, represented by Kevin, a student and a leader in the SBCCHS community who tragically passed away in 2020. The fire of the Bronx sun is reiterated in the basketball, the phoenix, and the crown. That fire—energy and passion—is carried throughout students’ journeys, from the Bronx to the beyond.
As an artist in the City Canvas program, I was assigned to create artwork for Woodside NYCHA houses. (See Pix11 news on this public art project) Fellow artists and I were also tasked with leading workshops, where community members had an opportunity to be creative. Workshop attendees helped conceptualize the artwork, which was printed on vinyl, then installed on one of the many long-standing scaffolds in their development. My piece explored the idea of home. Students from neighboring William Cullen Bryant high school were asked to describe home. Among the answers: where I sleep, difficult and hard, my family, where I can be by myself, where I think.