As the U.S. braced for an unprecedented presidential election earlier this fall, institutions in cities across the country—including the School of Visual Arts—boarded the street-level windows of their buildings in preparation for any potential demonstrations. But rather than present the public with drab expanses of plywood, SVA Executive Vice President Anthony P. Rhodes initiated an effort to turn these barriers into uplifting works of art.
Orchestrated by Bill Martino, director of Student Affairs, the resulting project, “SVA Murals of Hope,” features nine large-scale paintings created by 14 SVA students and aims to bring some light and positivity at the end of a long and difficult year.
For the most part, the works’ messages are simple and straightforward, with such titles as NYC Still Smiles, Stay Safe and We’re All in This Together—the last of which echoes the final, pandemic-inspired work by the late SVA faculty member and legendary designer Milton Glaser, who died this past summer.
“I wanted to participate because I wanted to give some love back to SVA and NYC with everything that 2020 has thrown at us,” says third-year BFA Illustration student Lydia Shin of her Stay Safe mural.
About NYC Still Smiles, third-year BFA Fine Arts student Jessica Oliveira says, “The appreciation given to all of us working on the murals was evident by many stopping to watch us paint and thanking us for ‘beautifying the streets again,’ and for bringing joy to their neighborhood.”
A local shop inspired a mural titled Hope Grocery, says second-year BFA Design student Mona Monahan. “My corner bodega stood out to me because it is a meeting place for the community that stays open no matter the weather, and even during the worst of the virus,” Monahan says. “My design is celebrating the small businesses of New York that have been able to find hope and survive this difficult time.”
Other works in the series include All My Homies Wear Masks, by third-year BFA Animation student Josiah Mickael McCloud and Make NYC Better, by third-year BFA Advertising student Anna Heath and third-year BFA Illustration student Ting En Chou. Additional participating students include Angelica Dalzon (BFA Illustration), Lee Ferrel (BFA Illustration), Alessandra Peralta (BFA Design), Anthony Reamer (MFA Fine Arts) and Kalani Van Meter (BFA Animation).
SVA Murals of Hope can currently be seen on the College’s buildings along East 23rd Street. Check out our slideshow of photos of the project below. Stay safe!