The Monument Art Project in East Harlem has us in awe. After discovering these international artists new works, we can safely say that East Harlem or El Barrio is a new street art destination. After the success of the Los Murals Hablan art project, Jose Morales and Celso Gonzalez with the help of council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito came back to East Harlem to add to the 10 murals they curated in 2013 with 11 more murals this time with a much more diverse set of artists.
El Mac and Cero painted (below) this mosaic and paint portrait of writer Nicholasa Mohr. Mohr, a hispanic and Nuyorican female creative writer, has become an inspiration for the creative minds on this mostly Puerto Rican and Dominican neighborhood. Mohr is considered to be the most successful hispanic female writer of her generation and was on site for the creation of her likeness. Most of the murals of this project took on issues of immigration, diversity, and safety with the hope of inspiring the younger generation. These murals all have vivid imagery and take a direct shot at the issues of this neighborhood.
Adrian Roman aka Viajero’s paper boat is a real masterpiece of the project. Viajero has created his mural of a immigrant transporting himself through the waters via raft physically created with ripped newspaper collage glued back together. This use of present day ripped materials creates a serial eeriness that captures the ills of the immigrant traveler. The tired man looks over his shoulder weary of what is chasing him. Wheatpasting and muraling have gone hand in hand for some time now, but this use of mixed media really made the piece resonate with symbolism.
Argentine born, Ever painted local children based on a photo of a local boy he took and photos of children by Martha Cooper from the neighborhood in the 80’s for his Monumental piece. The use and interaction with the community is what makes this street project stand out. The finished product with a colorful and thought provoking flare overlooks a local school and basketball court.
The most aesthetically pleasing work of the project is brought to us by Belgian artist ROA. ROA is most famous for his three story animal piece in Williamsburg or his Dinosaur in Jersey City but, stealthy, this is by far his best piece in the city. We are slightly critical because this is the only piece of the project that does not take on its progressive meaningfulness. Overall though who wouldn’t want this piece hanging in their neighborhood.
Some other murals for the project include Faith 47’s piece of a circle of birds representing the transient society in which we all live. Mexican Sego’s piece pictured below takes a new look at the Statue of Liberty. Looking underneath its armor, the vulnerable Staute’s horns have been replaced by a more traditional garb.
For more you can check out the Monument Art Website and be sure to visit East Harlem and support the local community.