Last week through a chain of I know someone that knows someone, I got a text message if I knew anyone to paint a community fridge in The Bronx. As I am feeling better and now I can walk almost normal, I immediately volunteered.
Sara and Selma have been providing free food to their community for two months already. They saw what other communities were accomplishing by having a fridge in the street, asking local businesses to donate food at the end of the day, coordinating with community gardens to get fresh produce and checking on the fridge every day a couple of times a day to make sure it is clean and working.
While painting it I was impressed by the number of people that used it, to bring and to get food from it. We don't really know how people are struggling until you offer help.
This is a mutual aid initiative that has been pretty successful in different parts of the city and I see it is being done in other cities.
I will be hopefully painting a few more soon... This one is located at 242 Street and Broadway Ave. In the North Bronx.
We had a couple of technical difficulties to paint the fridge. The first day it was so humid that the paint I brought to paint didn't dry, so I had to come back a second time. All worth!!
"Amuleto" 125th Street & Park Ave. Harlem, New York.
This mural was done trying to bring up a conversation about who is looking at us and how sometimes being out of sight is safer. When some communities start to be in the point of view most of the times is a bad sign, the people watching will try to change you, so you look more appealing for the ones to come. Resilience is the way to go, resistance, community United... I'm leaving here my "Amuleto" I hope luck is our side.
It was done by uptown artists during a big celebration bringing the community together having fun and creating memories. Uptown Grand Central (particularly Ayana) coordinated over 50 artists to give color and beauty to the neighborhood.
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.
I am a...
Graphic Designer, Illustrator, Educator, Community Activist... ARTIST!
All Images COPYRIGHT © 2008-2019, are property of Laura Alvarez Fernandez. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED