A new mural series at the Lillian Wald Senior Center vividly showcases the rich history and culture of immigrants who shaped the Lower East Side and continue to shape the community.
Unveiled on July 10, “Roots/Raíces” is a series of five colorful murals on 1,200 square feet of the center’s exterior walls. The mural project was led by Thrive Collective, a non-profit organization that creates hope and opportunity through arts, sports, and mentoring. The organization held workshops with older adults at the senior center in March and April to develop the concept, content, and designs of the mural.
The murals were painted in June, with the help of more than 100 volunteers, including seniors, young people, and other community members. In addition, artists from two non-profits in Puerto Rico, Ciudad Museo PR and Project Refugee PR, contributed their artistic skills and talents. Fermin Mendoza, a teaching artist with Thrive Collective, led the concept and design workshops with seniors and the mural production.
The five murals are named Alphabet City, Capicu, Coquí, Flor de Maga, and Piraguas. They include colorful depictions of community members playing dominoes and pool, dancing, laughing, enjoying piraguas (Puerto Rican shaved ice), and memories of ancestral homes. One mural includes a portrait of Henry Street Settlement founder Lillian Wald, who the senior center and development are named for.
“Roots/Raíces” was funded by a grant that Thrive Collective received from Council Member Carlina Rivera and SU-CASA/New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, with support from The United Jewish Council of the East Side, which runs the Lillian Wald Senior Center.