Painted: November 2023
Sponsored by: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Foundation
About the Bird: Falcons are known to be swift, nimble hunters, and the Aplomado Falcon is no exception. It swoops over desert grasslands in search of lizards, small mammals, and even other birds, which it flushes and plucks from mid-air by working with a partner. The Aplomado Falcon ranges across Central and South America all the way to the tip of Argentina, and was once a common presence in the U.S. Southwest also. Today, it is rarely seen north of Mexico, and the northern population is considered endangered. Attempts have been made to reintroduce the bird to Texas. If global temperatures rise by 3 degrees Fahrenheit, however, climate models show that 77 percent of the Aplomado Falcon's breeding range in North America will be too inhospitable for it to use.
About the Artists: Jari "Werc" Alvarez and Gera "Geraluz" Lozano are artists based in Brooklyn. Werc investigates public art as a place for spiritual practice, bringing into play conceptual mythical figures and reimagining our connection to nature and ancestral knowledge. Revealing the place in between worlds, Werc draws from Mesoamerican wisdom that empowers our connections to the transcendental aspects of our existence. Geraluz sees herself as an agent of Mother Earth. Her artwork focuses on reawakening notions of femininity and indigeneity via mixed-media modes. The indigenous pattern-making ritual in Geraluz's public artwork honors the land and is a performance of resistance and preservation, bringing light to both sacred patterns and the patterns woven into our social fabric.
Both artists migrated to New York from the historic range of the Aplomado Falcon: Werc was born in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, and grew up in El Paso, Texas, while Geraluz was born and raised in the Peruvian Amazon. For the couple's Audubon Mural Project contribution, titled “Above and Beyond,” the artists created a visual mantra focusing on the bird. The falcons in the mural are symbolic of possessing a higher perspective and the expansion of our spirits that enables us to envision a more holistic world. The birds in the upper right and left corners were drawn from the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, an effort to bring ancient art into a more accessible public space.
The hands in the mural are performing mudras: The lower gesture channels energy for an open heart, and the gesture above, for an open mind. The set of hands near the bottom bloom from an agave, a plant native to the Southwest, and at the center of the mural viewers look into the agave's heart—a composition Werc intended to reference the relationship between healing plants and healing hands. The repeating design in the mural was inspired in part by the Inca cross, or “chakana”—a pre-Columbian motif that Geraluz reimagined as an expansive rhythmic pattern, beating in alignment with the heart of the Earth.