The High Line is one of New York City’s premier locations for outdoor art, offering commissioned projects from some of the best cutting-edge names in contemporary art. The coming year promises more of the same, starting right now, in fact. A new mural is nearing completion at a spot on the elevated green space at West 22nd Street.
Titled The Baayfalls and based on an earlier canvas from 2017, the piece is the handiwork of Jordan Casteel, a fast rising star whose specialty is portrait painting. Her subjects have included family members, friends, her students, fellow subway riders and people she’s met on the street.
The backstory here involves the latter. A while back, Casteel encountered a woman from Senegal named Fallou in Harlem. Fallou was parked in front of The Studio Museum, where she sells hats that she designed herself. She mentioned that her brother, Baaye Demba Sow, would soon be arriving from Africa, and once he did, Casteel decided to have the pair pose for her.
Casteel portrays them at the table where Fallou peddles her wares. Her brother sits next to her, making a gesture which signals his membership in a Sufi muslim order whose adherents are recognized by their dreadlocks and brightly colored patchwork clothing—a sect called Baye Fall, which Casteel's references in her title.
The siblings will be on view through December 2020, so the next time you’re on the High Line, why not pay them a visit?