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Brooklyn Street Art

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Lakwena: “Lifting Us Higher” and #kindcomments At The Houston/Bowery Wall

Posted on September 28, 2017

Despite the impression you may have from exploding, car-chasing action movies, New York can actually be a very kind place. Yes, New Yorkers can be abrupt, opinionated, and unvarnished in their assessment of anything from the Mets to Trump – but if you need a hand or directions to Rockefeller Center, we got your back.

Lakwena. The crowd in front of the wall waiting for the official unavailing. “Lift You Higher” Houston/Bowery Wall. New York City. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“I found all to be very respectful, really friendly, warm and welcoming. Not too interfering,” says Lakwena, the newest artist painting the Houston/Bowery Wall. “They are really nice to be honest.” The London based artist just completed the first wall for the opening salvo of Instagram’s new #KindComments campaign, according to COO of Instagram, Marne Levine, who was standing in front of the new mural to announce the initiative meant to promote kindness online and offline.

Lakwena with her sister and assistant Abimaro. Houston/Bowery Wall. New York City. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

With “Lift You Higher” on NYC’s mural Lakwena Maciver starts the dialogue on walls and on Instagram that will travel to murals in Dallas, Chicago, Washington, DC, Mexico City, Jakarta, Tokyo, Mumbai and more this September, October, and November. “I love the energy on the streets in New York and it reminds me of London,” says the artist who spent just about one week here with her sister Abimaro painting the famed wall that has hosted Street Art names like Haring, Fairey, Swoon, and Faile.

“It was nice having the builders just near by. We kind of interacted with them a lot. One of them even came and painted with us, which is very nice. There was one scene that was very cute when a guy was passing by with his dog then he stopped in front of the wall and sat the dog on a skateboard in front of the wall and took a portrait of the dog. I noticed a lot of dogs in NYC.”

Lakwena. “Lift You Higher” Houston/Bowery Wall. New York City. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Photographer and Street Art curator Jaime Rojo, who spent a lot of time documenting the wall again this week covering two full days for famed photographer Martha Cooper, also remarks on the heavy construction that took place only yards away from the wall through much of the week – and how the construction workers were an instant appreciative audience for the painting action.

“It was the interaction between the city and the guest that impressed me,” he says. “It was the workers enthusiasm about art that was going up right before their eyes. They have in fact been working on Houston Street for so long that they have been witnessing several murals going up.

Lakwena. “Lift You Higher” Houston/Bowery Wall. New York City. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“These builders were working on a water main replacement for the first two days of production right at the corner of Houston and Bowery by the wall working all day with heavy machinery digging dirt, cables and whatever skeletons are found in the depths of the city. They were also focusing on the mural.” Rojo says that the crew actually assisted with traffic when he, Lakwena and Rusty from the Instagram team were figuring out how to run an electrical chord across Houston to set up a projector one night on the median.

Lakwena. “Lift You Higher” Houston/Bowery Wall. New York City. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“But it wasn’t just their assistance that made the days better,” says Rojo. “It was the workers enthusiasm about art that was going up right before their eyes. They have in fact been working on Houston street for so long that they have been witnessing several murals going up.

They have taken photos of them and when we were there they were showing photos of previous walls to the newcomers on the site. For them the art represents a possibility, a discovery beyond the depths of the city’s pavement, a welcomed distraction to the their grueling jobs and a soft breeze of air when they take a moment to rest or for lunch.”

Lakwena. “Lift You Higher” Houston/Bowery Wall. New York City. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Of course, this wall in particular has been the subject of much controversy as well, with a recent installation even bringing protest on the street and stinging criticism online. Wall owner Jessica Goldman Srebnick appeared before this new wall this week as well speaking frankly about the past and happily about this new positive campaign and the talented Lakwena, who did her first large mural on the street only a few years ago at Wynwood Walls in Miami. “Today was an extraordinary day,” says Srebnick on her Instagram page. “A glorious mural by @lakwena and a moving performance by the cast of Dear Evan Hansen.” Yes, what would a New York announcement be without a live performance from Broadway?”

Lakwena. “Lift You Higher” Houston/Bowery Wall. New York City. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Cliff Hopkins, Instagram’s Global Head of Marketing, joined in to talk about the new #kindcomments initiative which includes artists Lourdes Villagomez, Dallas Clayton, Chocomoo, Diela Maharanie, Mikhaela Cherry Virginia Chandra, and Yessiow – an international collection of illustrators, designers, and mural artists who will bring new word-based pieces to public space in the coming months.

In New York, you can be sure, there is always another opinion, and the Houston wall has suffered some of the most voracious responses from graffiti writers in recent years. It’s all part of the game on the street.

Lakwena and Abi got a visit from #kidbreak and #bboymarcski. Houston/Bowery Wall. New York City. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“I also realize that not everyone will be impacted by the wall,” says Lakwena of the “Lift You Higher” message. “A lot of people will just walk past it and go “whatever” – but some people will be spoken to by so it is well worth it.”

Lakwena. “Lift You Higher” Houston/Bowery Wall. New York City. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Lakwena. “Lift You Higher” Houston/Bowery Wall. New York City. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Lakwena. #kidbreak showing some moves. Houston/Bowery Wall. New York City. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Lakwena. “Lift You Higher” Houston/Bowery Wall. New York City. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Lakwena. “Lift You Higher” Houston/Bowery Wall. New York City. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Lakwena. “Lift You Higher” Houston/Bowery Wall. New York City. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Lakwena. “Lift You Higher” Houston/Bowery Wall. New York City. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Lakwena. “Lift You Higher” Houston/Bowery Wall. New York City. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Lakwena. “Lift You Higher” Houston/Bowery Wall. New York City. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Lakwena. “Lift You Higher” Houston/Bowery Wall. New York City. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Lakwena. “Lift You Higher” Houston/Bowery Wall. New York City. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Lakwena. “Lift You Higher” Houston/Bowery Wall. New York City. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Lakwena. “Lift You Higher” Houston/Bowery Wall. New York City. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Lakwena. “Lift You Higher” Houston/Bowery Wall. New York City. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Lakwena. “Lift You Higher” Houston/Bowery Wall. New York City. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Lakwena. “Lift You Higher” Houston/Bowery Wall. New York City. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Lakwena. “Lift You Higher” Houston/Bowery Wall. New York City. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Lakwena. “Lift You Higher” Houston/Bowery Wall. New York City. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Lakwena. Photographer Martha Cooper takes a photo of the three sisters. Houston/Bowery Wall. New York City. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Lakwena. “Lift You Higher” Houston/Bowery Wall. New York City. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Lakwena. “Lift You Higher” Houston/Bowery Wall. New York City. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Lakwena. “Lift You Higher” Houston/Bowery Wall. New York City. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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