An hour north of New York City in the wealthiest
county of the state, a new mural program extends the reach of organizers Audrey
and Thibault Decker of Street Art for Mankind. They say that they have
produced murals and exhibitions in Larchmont, Mamaroneck, and Midtown with the support
of more than 50 international Street Artists in the last few years – all with
the goal of raising awareness and funds to stop child trafficking worldwide.
The New Rochelle murals that went up this fall and were
debuted in November through and organized art walk and other events appear to
be more loosely correlated with local pride and history, such as the one by
artist Loic Ercolessi featuring local-born musician Don Mclean (“American Pie) and
Manhattan-born musician Alicia Keyes (“Empire State of Mind”).
An inspiring walk through the city’s downtown neighborhood on a grey and brisk fall day to discover these new murals was warmed by sharing the experience with photographer Martha Cooper, who took the train up from the city with BSA co-founder Jaime Rojo to catch the new works. The program here is called “NRNY Artsy Murals” and a highlight from this day was taking a cherry lift with Ukrainian Street Artist AEC to get a closer look at him while he worked on his new mural of allegorical surrealism.
quality is obviously high and the program eclectic, including artists such as DanK
(GBR), Elle (USA & AUS), JDL (NLD), Loic Ercolessi (USA & FRA), Lula
Goce (SPA), Mr Cenz (GBR) and Victor Ash (DEN, FRAand POR). Ash left the city
with a new floating astronaut high above the Earth, which may describe some of
the uplifting feelings passersby may experience here in New Rochelle.
With giant murals at the forefront of the message, a recent Manhattan campaign of select walls is intended to make us talk and keep our eyes on an ugly social justice issue that organizers hope we can collectively address: child labor and forced labor.
Even in downtown NYC on Wall Street people will admit
that capitalism isn’t cool if we are doing it on the backs of children
somewhere. Nobody celebrates that. Do they?
With murals that advocate for “decent work”, asking us to create a better “future of work”, a small inspired group of international artists created impressive new works on Midtown’s East Side – roughly in the area of the United Nations.
Included in the group are Clandestinos (Shalak Attack and Bruno Smoky), Faith 47, Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada, Mr Cenz and Victor Ash. The collection is quite striking on city streets, as are the individual pieces. In fact each artist did their own interpretation of the overall theme by concentrating on direct and ancillary topics: green jobs, youth employment, gender equality at work, child labor and forced labor and the future of work.
Perhaps with some irony, the professionally rendered and emotionally stirring mural by Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada (at end of posting) was completed in the face of multiple obstacles that plague Street Artists sometimes, just not usually all at once. Regardless, the piece has an overwhelming impact.
A former culture-jamming urban installation artist who garners serious respect on the street as well as in professional art-world circles, he soldiered on for an installation that included lift equipment failures and a series of uncommon logistical challenges that come with mounting one of New largest mural works on the side of a soaring building that has a relatively narrow city alley. Only Rodriguez-Gerada’s determined vision allowed him to endure through a seemingly relentless torrent of bitter cold rainy spring weather for weeks.
Nonetheless, the results of his work, and of all of these artists, are as remarkable as they are sweet. In the service of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and a philanthropic group called Street Art for Mankind (SAM) these works can hopefully help raise our consciousness and protect children from enslavement and harsh work globally. Remarkably, SAM is going to directly to the heart of the matter, funding efforts to “help fund raid & rescue programs to free children from slavery,” says their press release.
Victor Ash – Green Jobs
Clandestinos – Future of Work
Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada – Child & Forced Labor
To learn more about Street Art For Mankind click HERE