Homeward Bronx Partners with Mural Project
Our Homeward Bronx location has partnered with the New York City Mural Arts Project, a program of Brooklyn Community Services, for a collaborative mural-making project. Through artmaking and community-building, NYCMAP works to promote mental health awareness and break down stigmas associated with mental illness.
Homeward Bronx is one of our supportive housing sites for homeless LGBTQ young adults. 80% of our LGBTQ young adult residents have behavioral health and substance use issues related to the abuse, rejection and discrimination they’ve experienced.
We were excited to apply for NYCMAP’s mural program. Community arts projects are a programmatic priority—many of our residents are talented artists. We see artmaking as a creative outlet, a coping and healing tool, and as a means of personal storytelling.
The Process: Discover, Design, Deploy
On October 28, 2022, Malanna Spencer (Life Skills Manager, Homeward Bronx) and Aretha Diri (Case Manager, Homeward Bronx) met with Ryan Patrick (Program Manager, NYC Mural Arts Project) and Paul Deo, the teaching-artist and muralist who would lead the project. Together, they finalized the agenda for weekly Discover Workshops at Homeward Bronx.
On November 9, teaching-artist Paul and Medea, a peer specialist, led the orientation workshop for current and former Homeward Bronx residents. Early workshops allowed residents to exercise mindfulness and meditation in a safe space. Subsequent workshops focused on art as a tool for destigmatizing mental illness and a way to foster discussion and community engagement. Then, Paul led the residents in arts workshops that would help them develop a theme and images for the mural.
By December 14, the group collectively had developed a mural theme: “Vision of Love.”
On December 21, the team held their first Community Engagement Event. Homeward Bronx residents visited P.S. 8 Isaac Varian School in the Bronx. Teaching-artist Paul led the P.S. 8 third and fourth graders in an arts activity where they also learned about mental health and self-care.
In the months ahead, the artist will transform themes from the Discover phase into the beginnings of a mural design. Homeward Bronx residents, community groups, and local residents will provide feedback and direction so that the mural design reflects the histories, values and experiences of the community.
From April to June, Community Paint Fests will engage anyone in the neighborhood who’s interested to paint sections of the mural. The design is printed on large, paint-by-number canvases that allow people of all ages and artistic abilities to paint sections of the mural together.
Stay tuned for updates!
About the Participants:
Homeward Bronx: Homeward Bronx is one of Homeward NYC’s supportive housing (affordable housing with onsite support services) sites for homeless LGBTQ young adults. The young adults entering our supportive housing are 18 to 24 years old. 54% experienced family abuse. 65% experienced family rejection. 80% of our LGBTQ young adult residents have behavioral health and substance use issues related to the abuse, rejection and discrimination they’ve experienced. The comprehensive services we provide include counseling, case management, connections to community resources, group activities, and life skills and empowerment programs.
The New York City Mural Arts Project: NYCMAP uses a collaborative mural-making process to discuss mental health and foster new relationships in New York City’s communities. We work with community-based organizations, artists, people living with a mental health condition, and the community at large to promote mental health awareness and break down stigmas associated with mental illness. Together, we translate our conversations into a mural that reflects the diversity and strength of everyone involved in the mural-making process. NYCMAP is a program of Brooklyn Community Services and the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.