Oct. 12, 2020 By Allie Griffin
A massive mural featuring a giant heron, a cormorant and a glowing sunset is going up on a school building in Long Island City.
The mural is being painted on the side of the Q404 Hunters Point campus building, which is located on Center Boulevard–across the East River from the United Nations headquarters.
The artwork stems from a competition launched during Climate Week, Sept. 21 through Sept. 27, by the UN and GreenPoint Innovations (GPI), a production organization focused on sustainability. The competition was also organized by The Climate Group and Newtown Creek Alliance.
The competition, GreenPoint EARTH 2020: Screens2Streets, aims to spotlight global climate issues using art.
The winning piece — now being painted — depicts the past, present and future of the nearby Newtown Creek, a federal Superfund site. It includes birds, seagrasses, sassafras and smoke stacks.
The mural illustrates the connection between industrialization, climate change and the health of local communities, according to the artist Federico Massa, a Brooklyn-based Italian native who also goes by the name Iena Cruz.
The work is New York City’s first carbon neutral street art and has little to no environmental footprint. GPI is providing recycled and repurposed materials and environmentally friendly paint from Smog Armor for the piece. NYC Materials for the Arts is also providing recycled and repurposed materials.
“Art is a powerful medium that can help raise awareness of the daily harms we inflict on our planet,” Massa said.
“Thanks to the private and public partnerships formed by GreenPoint Innovations, the mural will be created in an eco-conscious way, including my use of paint that’s able to consume pollution from the air, bringing environmental benefits directly to the community.”
GPI will release a short film about the Newtown Creek and its history of pollution in tandem with the mural.
The film and mural aim to bring the issue of pollution to the attention of students who attend the Hunters Point campus where Massa is painting the piece.
“This piece will inspire young people who have already proven themselves as leaders in the climate crisis and show that art and purpose can help us build a greener, healthier and sustainable future,” said Stephen Donofrio, Principal and Founder of GPI.
Students at the Hunters Point Community Middle School, The Academy for TV and Film and The Riverview School all attend classes in the Q404 building, located at 1-50 51st Ave.
The massive mural will brighten the day of students and teachers who are returning to the building after months of quarantine, school administrators said.
“For our school community returning to this location after six months of quarantine, this installation is a way to lift our spirits and remind us of the tenuous yet incredible relationship we have with the natural world,” said Sarah Goodman, Founding Principal of Hunters Point Community Middle School.