Every person in a community should be recognized for his or her contributions, but there are often not enough opportunities to reflect on the people who make a neighborhood vibrant. Through the completion of “The Wall of Reflect,” a team of talented youth recognized one community’s residents in Brownsville.
This mural was created as part of “Transform/Restore: Brownsville,” a two-year participatory public art project focused on the transformation of vandalized walls into painted murals by young adult probation clients alongside Groundswell youth leaders. Launched with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) through its national Our Town initiative, “Transform/Restore: Brownsville” is designed to engage young adult probation clients, local businesses, and community members in supporting the creation of visible and permanent change in Brownsville, Brooklyn.
This mural in particular utilized the tradition of the People’s Art practice through extensive interviews, youth-led design, and community painting days. The mural challenges the division of “high” and “low” art by using the template of a salon to paint Brownsville residents. Brightly colored designs span the length of the wall like wallpaper, incorporating elements of ironwork fence designs from around the neighborhood. Throughout, styled frames are painted to highlight portraits of Brownsville residents, created by Lead Artist Crystal Bruno, Assistant Artist Jose de Jesus Rodriguez, the youth participants, and Brownsville volunteers.
“Over the last two years, both Brownsville and dozens of youth artists have been transformed through the ‘Transform/Restore: Brownsville’ series. It makes sense that this mural serves as the capstone to this project. The team brought in the community through intentional, thoughtful practices at every step of the process, revealing the hidden treasure of the community support in the process,” said Daniel Murphy, Executive Director of Pitkin Avenue Business Improvement District.
By bringing to life the beauty and strength of Brownsville, Groundswell artists truly celebrated the community’s ‘hidden treasures’ – the neighborhood’s community members.
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