Over several days in early October, the first floor windows of the Pratt Manhattan campus were filled with vibrant drawings in ink. The painted mural is a long-term installation by Maria de Los Angeles, BFA Painting ’13 and Visiting Instructor in Foundation, Associate Degrees, and Continuing and Professional Studies. The New York-based multidisciplinary artist regularly works with unconventional media. Her detailed paintings have adorned paper, canvas, and wearable dresses. These pieces reflect on her own experiences as an immigrant to encourage dialogue about migration and marginalization in the United States.
“The mural is an homage to life, hope, and freedom,” said de Los Angeles. “The mural is welcoming with details of mothers with children, children with butterflies, stars, and people walking around a landscape composed of roses and other flowers. I like how the reflection of the building across the street and people walking by appear in the mural and it’s transformed by the light throughout the day.”
Her kaleidoscopic layers of flora, faces, butterflies, birds, and stars are embedded with imagery responding to themes of migration, displacement, identity, and otherness. The painted dresses, worn by the artist or volunteers in performances and made from recycled materials, have surfaces that consider the body as a place for social and political discussion, particularly on biculturalism and confronting stereotypes.
Similarly, the mural brings this discourse to an unexpected place with its visibility on a busy New York City street. The participation of art in the community is central to de Los Angeles’s work and the mural engages both passersby and visitors in the creative work happening at the Pratt Manhattan campus which also houses the Pratt Manhattan Gallery.
“Through this project, Pratt hopes to attract attention to the diverse and inclusive environment of our Manhattan campus,” said Nsombi B. Ricketts, Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. “In addition, Maria de Los Angeles’s work exemplifies the Institute’s commitment to social practice and celebration of National Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month.”