Public Art: Cyprus Hills Fights for Food Justice

Location: 999 Jamaica Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11208
Neighborhood: Cypress Hills
Program: School-based Programs
Theme: Health and Wellness
Year: 2016
Partner(s): LISC New York City, Communities for Healthy Food at Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation, Franklin K Lane High School Campus
Funder(s): Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund
Lead Artist(s): Raúl Ayala
Assistant Artist(s): Alison Rutsch
Participants: Fareha Afrin, Noushin Ahmed, Darlenyes Barre, Eddie Betancourt, Lamel Dupre, Sherly Gil, Kenneth Gomez, Daniel Gordon, Tamika Halley, Rosemarie Hollywood, Amelia Lopez, Jordania Monegro, Alejandro Ortiz, Matthew Parks, Maximus Parks, Arbaz Peters, Christopher Rodriguez, Jeremy Rodriguez, Leslie Rodriguez, Laisha Sayas, Kheyla Simmonds, Fatima Yassef
Medium: Acrylic and Spraypaint on Canvas
Dimensions: 3.5 x 20 ft


“Cypress Hills Fights for Food Justice” is a compelling piece that addresses the issues of food justice in the Cypress Hills community. The mural informs the students of the dangers of sugar in their diets. It also depicts the work the community gardens in the area are doing to solve these problems. The artist team created a series of canvases that narrate the problems and solutions they came up with in their investigations about this issue.

The canvases are split into two matching sets, each set with a depiction of unhealthy eating and a depiction of community gardens.

In one of the unhealthy eating panels, a grim reaper named Food Corp holds a scale with vegetables in one tray and a burger in the other. The burger represents American fast food. The burger outweighs vegetables to convey the influence fast food corporations have in the neighborhood.

In the matching panel, the design focuses on the solutions and actions youth can take to create a more just approach to food. Gardening tools to convey the idea of work. In the same panel the center of the composition is a group of people in the act of planting. The team created this piece to denote the importance of collective work.

Social Realism inspired this mural’s style and was a movement centered on conveying issues directly affecting the community hosting the mural.

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