A sobering but beautiful Black Lives Matter mural was unveiled in midtown on Thursday, adding a colorful tribute to all those lives lost to brutality to the Manhattan neighborhood.
Painted by Alexandre Keto, an Afro-Brazilian artist whose work is influenced by his spiritual Orisha worship and American graffiti, the mural imagines the lives that Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown and Agatha Felix were deprived of leading.
It features these victims with smiles on their faces showing that they were real people, who were denied the ability to live and flourish, struggle and succeed, Keto says.
"As an artist, I can paint a reality that Black people can live their dreams and not worry about being murdered by a bullet from a cop," Keto said. "I don’t know if I’m effectively honoring them, but what I’m trying to do as an artist is imagine what they’d do with their dreams.
"A few days ago someone made a 50-foot long line on the wall I was painting," he continued. "People were upset that this happened. What they don’t understand is that society does this every day to people of color. I wonder how long the wall is going to last before someone tags it, motivated by hate; it’s the same way that Black mothers around the world wonder, 'how long will my son’s life last?'"
Keto has painted more than 1,000 murals and paintings in more than 21 countries.
The work was commissioned by ArtBridge, a public art nonprofit, and was done via the Department of Cultural Affairs' City Canvas pilot program, which allows construction fencing to be turned into canvases for art.
It will be up for at least four months at 1100 Sixth Avenue at 43rd Street.
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