Several years ago, ‘Los Muros Hablan’ (Spanish for The Walls Speak) project came to El Barrio and The South Bronx by way of Puerto Rico thanks to City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito who brought this urban art project from San Juan to our neighborhoods.
This year, the project is called MONUMENTART and is bringing an eclectic mix of artists from around the world From Puerto Rico to Mexico to South Africa and even Argentina, these artists will be tackling the topic of immigration, especially as it pertains to our city as the capital of the world and destination for those from every corner of the globe, in their murals.
MONUMENTART is an evolution of Los Muros Hablan and is also sponsored by New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and also is a project presented by La Marqueta Retoña which has transformed the famous La Marqueta in El Barrio into not just a marketplace, as it has been for well over 100 years to various ethnic groups, but to an important artistic and cultural venue as well.
The importance of this project goes beyond the complexities of immigration and the international artists who will be leaving their own interpretations behind but it is about two communities who’s histories have been intertwined for over a century.
The South Bronx and East Harlem populations have historically mirrored each other during this span.
When East Harlem had a large Italian and Jewish population and Puerto Ricans were migrating from the island into the neighborhood, the same was happening in the South Bronx especially in Port Morris, Mott Haven, Melrose, Hunts Point, Longwood, and others.
In recent decades, as the Mexican America population increased in El Barrio, the same thing happened this side of the river.
These are communities that, although are located in two separate boroughs, share very similar histories, people, social issues that go beyond political boundaries and the river that separates them and the many bridges and council district which unites them.
It’s extremely fitting that the artists who will be doing The Bronx mural at 138th Street and Grand Concourse are a Puerto Rican and Cuban duo who go by the name of ‘Dos Alas’, or two wings in Spanish as a reference to the famous Puerto Rican poem known as ‘A Cuba’ (To Cuba) in which the late Puerto Rican poet Lola Rodríguez de Tío calls both islands two wings of one bird.
And that’s exactly what the South Bronx and El Barrio are. Two wings of one bird with shared, similar trials and tribulations.
Welcome2TheBronx is excited to present this project to our borough so stay tuned as we will bring you the finished products along with a handy map as well as places to visit along the way as you take this journey in the outdoor museum that is the South Bronx and El Barrio.
MONEMENTART is curated by Puerto Rican born and based artist, Celso Gonzalez.
Check out the artists’ bios below: