Groundswell, New York’s leading organization dedicated to community public art, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), and New York City Council Public Housing Chair Ritchie Torres collaborated on a major one-year initiative entitled “Public Art / Public Housing.” The pieces were designed and installed by a total of 200 young adult NYCHA residents ages 16-24, in the transformation of vacant walls throughout public housing developments in all five boroughs. The tenant's association at each development guided the creation of three mural projects, for a total of 15 new public artworks throughout New York City.
The first mural at Tompkins Houses, “Holding It Down for Generations” celebrates the heritage and history of the housing development. The young artists, all residents at Tompkins, met with elder residents of Tompkins Houses to learn the history of their community. The women’s experiences and struggles were points of inspiration for the artist team. The mural memorializes the unsung heroes of the community such as its organizers, mothers, and neighbors who helped lead the community in the past. The women in the mural are ageless in portrayal, conveying the timeless importance of support that past generations of the community have contributed. These women all have more than two hands as a representation of their many responsibilities within the Tompkins Houses. “Holding It Down for Generations,” installed on the side of the community center, exists as an homage to the people that built and nurtured the community and its members.
Smithsonian – New York City Is Paying Public Housing Residents to Paint Murals
Observer – New City Program Brings Art by Public Housing’s Own Residents to its Walls
New York Times – Wielding Paint Brushes, Not Spray Cans, at a Bronx Housing Project
City Lab – Youth Artists Are Painting Gorgeous Murals Inside New York City Public Housing
Nonprofit Quarterly – Mural Project Gives Young NYC Artists a Venue for Public Voice