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Union Square street mural
Photograph: Jane Kratochvil

This giant street mural promoting peace has taken over Union Square

The public art works seeks to also celebrate the resilience of New Yorkers.

Anna Rahmanan
Written by
Anna Rahmanan
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The 14th Street Busway in Union Square is now the site of a meaningful new mural by Sunset Park, Brooklyn-based visual artist and educator Ji Yong Kim.

Union Square mural
Photograph: Jane Kratochvil

The 7,500-square-foot work is titled "Ripples of Peace and Calm" and features depictions of lotus flowers, floating leaves and swimming koi fish—all images that evoke traditional East Asian paintings and seek to promote peace and calm.

According to an official press release, "lotus flowers are often found in murky hazy ponds but grow and reach for the light, eventually blooming a beautiful flower above muddy water. The growth and resilience symbolize our collective experience emerging from the pandemic to a brighter, more hopeful future." The other symbols call out to good luck, prosperity and perseverance against hardship—in a way, they represent the essence of New Yorkers.

What's more, the mural was installed over a five-day period by Union Square Partnershipwith the help of Brooklyn-based urban planning and design firm Street Plans, community partners and volunteers—a fact that also highlights the importance of solidarity, mutual respect and unity.

Union Square mural
Photograph: Jane Kratochvil

Presented in partnership with the NYC Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Art Program to highlight the increased pedestrian spaces created by the 14th Street Busway, the work also pays homage to Union Square's history as a public place for people to gather while fighting for social justice and change. 

"I want viewers in Union Square to find themselves standing on vibrating water, finding a rhythm of peace, calm and message of hope," said Kim in an official statement. "Throughout the pandemic, I became acutely aware of being Asian and often feared being targeted by Asian hate crime. My immediate response was anger, hatred and mistrust reciprocated in equal proportion. However, I come to realize that this is the wrong reaction. Responding in hate only further divides and alienates us. Thus, I designed this mural to be an antithesis of hate, resonating with peace and calm."

Clearly part of the city's best outdoor art canon, "Ripples of Peace and Calm" will stay in place indefinitely. 

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