Through heat, wind and rain, a wall on 11th Avenue has been transformed by artist Carlos Alberto into a colorful climate change message.
The previously blank canvas owned by the Javits Center is part of a $1.5 billion extension completed two years ago. The area is enclosed by a temporary NYPD tow pound but is now home to a 12,800 square-foot vibrant 3D acrylic painting, completed by Carlos over 10 days in difficult weather conditions. Using both hands, the ambidextrous artist toiled through rain and heat to complete the piece.
“Everyone can be the change. That’s what I want to represent here,” said Carlos. “When we have a healthy ecosystem everything flourishes, not just us but the whole planet.”
The mural’s left side depicts animals that have “disappeared” and are either extinct or extremely rare, while those on the right are in “remission” and starting to re-populate, according to Thibault Decker, co-founder of Street Art for Mankind. In the center, an African-American woman embraces a tree, flanked by a panda, symbolizing the importance of forest conservation.
“Art is always going to transform a space. It’s always going to capture people’s attention,” said Carlos. “Now that you have their attention, you want them to see all the details so that they can see the message behind it — that we have to protect the planet and take action.”
The Javits Center is a fitting home for the climate change mural — its rooftop is an all-season farm, greenhouse and orchard that produces as much as 40,000 pounds of produce a year. The roof features solar panels, rainwater-collecting moss and sedum for insulation.
“Why the Javits? The incredible green space that you have up there spearheads a lot of eco-friendly technologies,” said Thibault. “Of course, if we’re going to do a mural on climate change, it has to be here.”
Street Art for Mankind is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2015 with the goal of raising awareness about social and environmental justice. The organization curated the Ecosystem Restoration mural as a pledge to restore ecosystems globally and bring about tree equity to all communities.
The NYPD tow pound is due to be converted into affordable housing — The Slaughterhouse — with two building towers, one for a hotel and the second for permanently affordable housing. To complete the mural, Carlos was allowed inside the impound lot.
“The NYPD went above and beyond because some of the things they had parked in here were marijuana trucks, which had been impounded and we asked them to move them and with great effort they did,” said Alan Steel, the Chief Executive Officer of the Javits Center. “They don’t normally do this kind of thing.”
We interviewed the artist, Carlos Alberto, in Spanish. Please let us know if you want more Spanish-language content on W42ST.
Entrevistamos el artista, Carlos Alberto, en Español. Por favor, dejemos saber si desea más contenido en español en W42ST.