This summer I am working with WHEDco to create a Step Street Mural in the Highbridge neighborhood of The Bronx. We have done a couple of outreach events to let the community know this is coming and to gather volunteers to help with the painting process. Right now we are just waiting on some permits but I can already taste the paint!!!
In the past years, some organizations and neighborhoods in the Bronx have started to fight back against the burden of being number 62 out of 62 counties in the health rank of New York.
Part of the #Not62 initiative have been the community gardens that have sprung around the borough, promoting healthy eating. One of the issues we face is the food deserts, where you have to travel in order to get fruits and vegetables, and when you find them they are expensive and their quality is not great.
These small gardens give the communities an alternative option, growing your own food, and at the same time they create community spaces where you get to know your neighbors and share time with them.
This step street mural is an homage to those gardens and at the same time will make fun and colorful the fact that you have to go up and down the stairs, promoting exercise.
In this project I want to involve the community gardens inviting them to help in the painting process and also bringing information about what they do and where they are located to get more people to join them. Public art is a great outreach platform. Once we are done we will write the names of the gardens in the steps.
I am a firm believer that tradition is very important in our lives. The Bronx area has a big immigrant and blue collar community. What they have in common is the manual labor, earning the bread with your hands. I always remember the older woman in my family working at home taking care of the families but also sewing, crocheting and knitting. My grandmother used to make this crochet flower mats for everything. That's the inspiration for the background flowers, that lay on top of the blue of the Mediterranean Sea I grew up looking at. On top, the flowers to remind us that Spring always come and we can look forward good times. Finally I also wanted to pay homage to the neighborhood and the borough by using the frames already on the wall to write their names.
Thank you Artbridge for this opportunity and for coordinating the whole thing. The installation took 3 full days to complete, aided by numerous community volunteers. It was funded by local council member Andrew Cohen, as part of the council’s NYC Cleanup Initiative. All paint was generously donated by Liquitex Professional. Thank you local resident Elisabeth von Uhl’s prodigious efforts were the spark plug for this project. We need more people like you.
Sometimes there are projects that happen and you don't know how much fun they are going to be until they happen. The preparation for this mural was somehow long and uncertain because of the design. We went through several sketches and I wasn't even sure if the one we went with was what the school wanted.
After all that work, my process is always “let it flow... there’s nothing wrong in art” you are working with kids, so whatever ideas you have in your head, most likely won't be what they want to do. I gave them some directions, and some of them were disregarded (like keep the hand prints in the sun) so we incorporated that in the design. I think after all, it ended up looking great. Over 30 kids participated in this community mural during period of 2 hours. They painted and wrote words that school inspired them and we all had an awesome evening.
When I submitted my proposal I said "I WANT TO BEAUTIFY THE NEIGHBORHOOD BY CREATING A CROSS-STITCH PATTERN ALONG THE STAIRS REMEMBERING THE OLD TRADITIONS, THE HAND-MADE ARTISANAL DESIGN IN AN ERA OF TECHNOLOGY AND PLASTIC." The idea with this public art piece was to encourage people to use the stairs and to feel good about it.
After a couple of weeks working in the Morris Heights Neighborhood I think we did accomplish this task. Old and young were surprised by the colors and the flow of the piece in the steps. The community helped us through the hard process of painting under the hottest days of the summer. I also had the greatest volunteers that believed in the project and gave everything they had to help bring this idea to life. They came out of their comfort zone, learn new things and created a beautiful piece of art that will live in this community.
The Bronx also deserves beautiful things, and we are here to bring them.
176 street, between Popham St. & Undercliff Ave.
This project was done through Artbridge as an initiative of NYC Department of Transportation & NYC Department of Health.
A few months ago a friend was looking for artists to participate in a beautification project that will bring a local marker to an underpass of the Bruckner expressway near The Bronx River. I was so excited about it, I created a sketch after I was explained the project and sent it. They loved it so I was in. A week ago I got delivered the 6x4 feet board and I finished over the weekend.
All the 12 boards will be installed soon and the ribbon cutting ceremony will take place April 27. Save the date and I'll keep all of you posted!
This Christmas I was back home visiting my family in Spain and I created this piece for the gate of a space shared by two organizations. Art i Mes is a cultural organization that spreads Art and love in this community through workshops, conventions, lectures, exhibitions and more. Astro Safor is an amateur astronomy organization that also works within the community to make astronomy accessible to everyone.
I created this Space Girl, combining both missions and giving them an image that will help them to be more visible when the center is closed.
Leaving my mark in my hometown.
Kaylove and I finished the Maylin Reynoso mural before Thanksgiving after a couple of weekends of rain and bad weather. Hopefully soon we can have an unveiling to make sure the community knows why we made it and why it is important to have this mural up outside of The Bronx.
Back in September, during the WHEDco weekend walk, BxArts Factory created a fun activity to increase the exposure of the nearby Morning Glory Community Garden. At the same time I engaged the community to help me paint the fence of the garden and beautify the space.
It was a very successful event, many members of the community came, painted and enjoyed the great space they have at the garden, hopefully we encouraged more neighbors to be part of the MGCG and will be enjoying fresh vegetables for their homes.
I am a...
Graphic Designer, Illustrator, Educator, Community Activist... ARTIST!
All Images COPYRIGHT © 2008-2017, are property of Laura Alvarez Fernandez. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED