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 in the series at Castle Hill Houses, entitled Stronger Together, was painted within a public lounge in the Castle Hill Community Center to inspire engagement and a stronger sense of community. The young artists chose to represent the diversity in the neighborhood by including images inspired by members of the community. The individual depictions in the mural are linked by connective devices, vines and ropes, to symbolize the power that community members gain through unity. Various imagery throughout the mural contain elements of a whole in order to convey how parts consolidate, similar to the foundation of a community. For example, molecular bonds are incorporated to represent how the formation of water requires distinct components, analogous to how a cohesive community requires cooperative individuals. Additionally, the theme of growth and development is included throughout the mural, depicted in such as representations of the Castle Hill building transforming into a butterfly. The creation of Stronger Together initiated community engagement which will continue in the communal room it is displayed in to inspire unity at Castle Hill.
“I joined this project because I like art, a lot. I paint at home and I wanted to be a part of something in my community. Our mural theme is unity, which to me means everyone coming together so that we can all succeed. I feel some people do succeed but don’t help others out. It is important to pay it forward. Through this project we can send out this important message,” said youth artist and Castle Hill resident Brenda Rodriguez, age 20.
Read more about the process of creating this mural in the New York Times.
The NYCHA Journal – Creating Change: Young NYCHA residents transform blank spaces into beautiful murals
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
Adafruit – New York City Is Paying Public Housing Residents to Paint Murals #ArtTuesday
NY1 – Young Public Housing Residents Paint a Positive Message
The Roosevelts – NYC Public Housing Residents Are Being Paid to Paint Murals
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
Bronx Times – Castle Hill Murals Paint A Brighter Future
Nonprofit Quarterly – Mural Project Gives Young NYC Artists a Venue for Public Voice