Harlem Cross-Cultural Collaboration Project
This project features four local artists from different racial backgrounds. Our collaboration is informed by the mantra "We Are Better Together." Our goal is to raise awareness about racism. We work together we work outside our individual comfort zones to make something we never would have on our own.
Jamel Robinson is a multidisciplinary artist focusing primarily on painting. He was born and raised in the Sugar Hill section of Harlem where he still lives and creates.
Through his friendship with Downtown DaVinci, he got involved in this community project to show solidarity between the Black and Asian communities in Harlem. This project emulates their friendship which has been about bridging gaps.
The way Jamel layers colors on top of each other symbolizes the layering of communities, with people living stacked up together, representing both peaceful co-existence and individual cultural pride. These colors could exist on their own but what he is illustrating is that they are “better together,” the same way that communities start out one way and evolve into something better when they work together. The through-line in the piece is black, which represents the Black community as the thread that weaves through all of the colors of the neighborhood.
The "We Are Better Together" mantra came to Jamel on the first day. As a community and as a people, we are, in fact, “better together.”
Christopher Pugliese, aka the @DowntownDavinci is an American artist born in New York City. Raised by two artist parents he grew up in the art world. He considers his choice to pursue Classical Art an exploration of his Italian ancestry and he aspires to create Contemporary Classical paintings that will move and inspire people.
Chris believes profoundly in the power of art. Because the modern world is so rich with images, Chris speculates that people may overlook the simple truth of art’s ability to inspire, soothe, uplift, promote change, and bring people together. During Covid, when his neighborhood was boarded up, he decided that it was an especially important time to make public art because all the museums and galleries were closed. In the process he learned about Murals for Good and realized that we shared a common goal to make a difference in the streets of New York with original artwork.
He chose to paint wings because they are a universal symbol and they engage the community with the opportunity to pose with them and share them with the world.
Alexander Brinitzer ("A.K.B.") grew up in Paris, France and moved to NYC about four years ago to make his artistic dreams a reality. He resides in Harlem and is currently a student at The New School and Parsons. Having a Japanese grandmother, Alex felt very close to the cause of fighting Asian hate. Growing up, he often worried for her. He wants to make sure his beloved, blind, Asian grandma, who likes to fend for herself, is not going to get punched or brutalized while walking by herself in the streets. He also believes in the importance of solidarity between the Black and the Asian communities and believes the cause should be widely represented, especially in Harlem.
As a child, Alex created a world of characters that he calls “Dent Rouge.” It represents an alternate realm in which his alter ego can exist. Dent Rouge is Alexander’s portal to mental peace. His characters are non-binary and do not have any specific skin color. They are all different, yet all the same. They are separate, yet linked.
Under our skin, we are all made of bones. The bones that Alex creates represent the bones of his characters that follow him wherever he goes. These bones represent a link among all humans, sending the message that we are all the same and “better together.”
Michela Muserra aka Miki Mu, born and raised in Italy, has lived in NYC since the early 2000s. She works as a teaching artist for Thrive Collective, a non-profit art organization that creates hope and opportunities through arts and mentoring in and around public schools and communities. Miki also works as an independent muralist whose art focuses on social causes and environmental issues to raise awareness.
Working with Thrive Collective, Miki learned how powerful art can be. She believes art can transform people and communities. Murals can be used to raise awareness, one neighborhood at a time. She’s deeply concerned by the recent surge in racist hate and inspired by movements like Black Lives Matter. As a white person, she understands her privilege, and it hurts her to see such widespread discrimination and the way many bystanders accept it as the norm. She knows racism is not inborn, and that humans must be taught to hate. Bigotry is a mental construct, not a natural state, and our country’s history has normalized that construct since its inception.
Working with various communities led Miki to let go of her artistic ego. She is constantly learning through her art and sees it as a powerful exercise for the evolution of her humanity and her art.
May Siu (aka MayDay) founded Murals for Good in an effort to promote equity, inclusion, and belonging through art. She is inspired to bring artists, partners, and volunteers together to creatively problem-solve social issues. MayDay is an interidisciplinary artist focusing primarily on providing artists a platform for social justice art. She also specializes in augmented reality (AR) light projection art work.
As an Asian American woman who lives the COVID-related hate experience, she believes now is the time for us to shine light on this issue and transform pain into positive change. She sees art as a powerful medium that can galvanize individuals and transform communities.
MayDay is the founder of Murals for Good.