• Balance was a partnership between Groundswell and East River Academy. This project was made possible through support from the New York State Council of the Arts.

Project Description

Created by East River Academy high school students incarcerated on Rikers Island, “Balance” explores how the Feng Shui ideal of balance might be realized in the students’ everyday lives. Professional artists Chris Soria and Misha Tyutyunik introduced the students to the origin, tradition, philosophy, and applications of Feng Shui. In response to the discussion of balance, the students suggested that the game of chess has many similarities to life and the ideal of balance that practicing Feng Shui aims to achieve. The central image in the mural is a chess piece in which a man holds the world on his shoulders. The yin yang and the man’s eight arms represent the eight elements of Feng Shui. The development of the mural involved youth from diverse backgrounds in a collaborative and inclusive process.

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Project Info

Location: 1111 Hazen Street East Elmhurst New York, NY 11370

Fun Facts

The mural’s creation inspired detainees to create their own works of creative writing, poetry, and artwork. Open discussion and contemplation about the piece occurred throughout the design process, providing a platform for healthy dialogue and reflection.
Suggested Activity
Feng Shui is a Chinese system of changing your environment that is believed to use both the laws of heaven and earth to improve one’s quality of life. Try to move furniture around in your home according to the laws of Feng Shui.
Legend Symbol
The yin yang. The Chinese concept of yin and yang portrays duality. Where there is light, there is also dark. This creates balance.