When Hurricane Sandy blew through New York City, it devastated many areas of New York City, but the Rockaways got hit worst of all. The neighborhood that thrived with its beautiful beaches and waterfront property saw most of its land submerged in water, its shoreline washed away, and its boardwalk destroyed. A year and a half later, residents of the Rockaways are still feeling the effects of Sandy’s wrath and is much in need of a morale boost. This is where Chris Stain, Nicolina Johnson, VANS custom culture high school finalists, and the Levy’s Unique New York come in.
On Wednesday, June 11th, guides from Levy’s Unique New York brought the VANS finalists out to the Rockaways to collaborate on a mural with New York based artists Chris Stain and Nicolina Johnson. They have a project known as “Hearts of the World.” They teamed up with Beautify Earth, seeking to bring street art to distressed neighborhood looking for hope, and brought a “Hearts of the World” mural to the Rockaways.
To create this wall mural, each VANS finalist was given a large panel with an outline of an anatomical heart and were told to fill it in with things they love, fear, hope for, are passionate about, etc…The VANS finalists decorated their hearts with everything ranging from planets, to inspirational quotes, to drawings of flowers. After putting their own stamps on the anatomical hearts, the panels were wheat pasted to the wall to life spirits for years to come. Hearts of the World and Beautify Earth have created murals in neighborhood and communities all around the world.
Street art has the ability to push neighborhoods in a positive direction. It has given boosts to the Bowery, DUMBO, and perhaps most famously, Bushwick with the Bushwick Collective. The hope is that the same will happen in the Rockaways, people will travel to see the murals, give the local economy a boost, and remember the beautiful beaches they enjoyed in the years before Sandy swept through. According to Beautify Earth, businesses report up to 20% increased revenue due to increased public visibility after the murals are completed. To keep track of murals that are part of the project, follow hashtag #beautifyearth on social media sites such as twitter and facebook.