Photo: Mike Fernandez/Audubon
Photo: Mike Fernandez/Audubon

Audubon Mural Project

Bank Swallow, Common Redpoll, Northern Shoveler, & White-faced Ibis by Creative Art Works

Location: 500 W. 138th St., New York, NY 10031

Painted: 8/9/2018

Climate Threat: The Bank Swallow requires vertical embankments in wild or disturbed settings for nesting colonies. Audubon's climate model forecasts a mass migration northward for the species, as only 22 percent of its current summer range may be suitable. Meanwhile, the Common Redpoll, a treat for birders in cold northern winters, is predicted to keep just 23 percent of it current breeding range, with a 25 percent decrease in its suitable climate space. The charismatic Northern Shoveler inhabits open wetlands, which makes global warming impacts on rainfall a big concern for the species. Audubon's models show a 54 percent drop in the duck's summer range by 2080. On the other hand, the White-faced Ibis enjoys freshwater marshes in the Western United States. Audubon's projections estimate a 95 percent loss of its current winter range, also by 2080.

One of the four new birds is a Common Redpoll, which carries a pencil to symbolize knowledge. Photo: Christine Lin/Audubon

About the Artists: Creative Art Works is a 32-year-old nonprofit that empowers young people through the visual and multimedia arts. It works in under-served neighborhoods of New York City in public schools, community centers, parks, and libraries to provide dynamic art-making experiences for youth who otherwise lack access. Students are never charged for participation in our programs.

Creative Art Works hires Youth Apprentices directly and as a worksite manager with the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development Summer Youth Employment Program. Programs are implemented in partnership with Catholic Charities of New York Alianza Division, Children’s Aid Society, Inwood Community Services, and Police Athletic League. CAW’s 2018 Public Art Youth Employment Program is made possible, in part, by public funds from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council. Direct support is provided by Brookfield, Crowell & Moring Foundation, RBC Foundation USA, Sherwin Williams, Structure Tone, and by individual donors.

Based out of Brooklyn, Jessie Novik is a permit-holding, board-certified creative arts therapist, teaching artist, and muralist with a masters degree from Pratt Institute. She earned her BFA in 2009 from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, where she concentrated in painting and sculpture. Drawn toward fantastical realism, Novik loves to paint landscapes and figures based on observation and travel, filtered through her rich imagination. Painting with young people is one of her favorite things to do because she used to dream of murals as a child. Besides making art and fostering creative development in others, Novik has a third-degree black belt in karate and teaches self defense to adults and children. 

Lauren Genutis has been working with youth since 2006 and has taught with Creative Art Works since 2015. She specializes in sculptural fabrication and has helped produce costume relief sculptures and props for music videos such as Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood.” She was also part of the model-making & -building team responsible for fabricating Manhattan island at the new Times Square attraction, Gulliver’s Gate. Genutis's most recent project consisted of sculpting four life- to large-scale ghostly figures for Daniel Arsham’s latest show in Moscow. This is her third mural program with Creative Art Works.

Ro Garrido was born in Lima, Peru, and raised in Queens, New York. She is a self-taught, multidisciplinary artist who works with collages, mixed media, archives, and installations. Her work predominantly grapples with themes of memory and intimacy and further explores migration, history, violence, trauma, and their effect. Garrido's work has been featured at the Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, Goddard College, Flux Factory, and The Laundromat Project. She has a BA in individualized studies with a focus on visual art and mental health from Goddard College.

Youth Apprentices: Alexis Taite, Britney Roache, Anaya Damon, Colin Zhang, Denisha Wright,  Jada John, Gasser Bagoga,  Jaheem Davis, Jayvon Richardson, Lakia Munnerlyn, Jerome Johnson, Larry Espinoza, Malachi Riley, Priom Mouri, Musfika Moshahid, Rafael Morales, Roberto Cruzado, Stokely Scarlett, Shanice Buddington, Tasia Goodner, Simone Alwanse, Aisha Konate, Ryan Bagot, D’laja Martin, Tiffany Guzman, Zachary Johnson

The Artists on the Mural: “Upon first visiting Jacob Schiff Park where long, low walls edge a tree-lined pathway leading into a co-located public school, I immediately thought of M.C. Escher. The structure of the park, coupled with the theme of climate-affected birds, just seemed to call for an Escher-esque metamorphosis in which migratory birds become a metaphor for immigrant children going through school. Therefore, I selected both migratory and indigenous birds whose images would appear relatively natural together moving across odd-shaped walls.

Tying in crucial themes of safety and freedom for immigrants who currently face flagrant political adversity, the group of young artists chose to tell a narrative through the sequence of parapets and wall. The narrative reflects the migration of birds traveling from one end of the park and transforming through spatial art elements and seasonal landscapes to the school wall. There, children from diverse backgrounds are featured in a nest where they are fed knowledge from the less migratory Common Redpoll, which represents school personnel. Surrounding imagery reflects the site's history and illustrates relevant themes of childhood development. The positive and negative space arrows among the parapets and the school wall further symbolize patterns of migration, immigration, and gentrification as it pertains to the area.”

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