A new mural was unveiled on Elm Street this week, but its true lasting impression will be on all of the children who helped to create it.
Evan Bishop is a local artist with a history of transformative projects throughout Yonkers. A member of Yonkers Arts, Bishop partnered with Westhab and DCJS for the RISE Initiative. This program funds various educational activities to help prevent gun violence in cities across New York State. The prompt Bishop received for this project was a simple, “The Art of Social Justice.”
Through a child’s eyes
Working with over 60 neighborhood children, Bishop asked them what “diversity and inclusion” meant to them. The eight to ten year-old students began to talk and draw during this first week of the six-week program. With the sum of their ideas, Bishop drafted five different designs. He democratically presented these designs to the group, and the children themselves voted on the winner.
What they chose was an image unmistakably “Yonkers” that incorporated rainbow colors and American Sign Language. Initially, the children wanted to include the flags of their ancestral homelands. However, Bishop opted to simplify things with the use of only colors instead. The colors do not denote any particular cause. But rather, their uniqueness represents the specialness of all peoples in the diverse Nodine Hill community. The idea to include images of sign language came specifically from one student who spoke ASL at home. And to Bishop’s surprise, his suggestion to the students that they all learn how to sign their own name was eagerly fulfilled. He had students rushing to show him how they learned to sign their name, and were hopeful to learn more.
That image for the mural is all about inclusion.Evan Bishop
Plan your work, then work your plan
With the design in hand, the work began. When creating a mural, it’s essential to understand the “grid method.” This method calls on the artist to trace a symmetrical grid overlapping the original design. Then, with all of the squares in place, a super-sized version of the artwork can be created by simply enlarging each square. You can see this grid method in action by Bishop in the adjacent photograph.
Just as Bishop encouraged the children to inspire and ultimately vote on the design for the mural, they similarly participated in its painting as well. After the grid was laid out on the wall in the Dayspring Commons, a rotating crew of students were each assigned a square to fill in. Bishop urged them to, “take care of your square,” as he oversaw the work unfold before his eyes.
Praise for their work
On August 9th, 2023, Mayor Mike Spano and City Council Members Corazon Pineda-Isaac and Tasha Diaz celebrated this new artwork. At a small press conference, they praised all involved who are forever adorned on the “title wall” of this mural.
With the project finally complete, the student-artists were reminded that the process is just as important as the result. Their work over those six weeks resulted to more than just paint on a wall. And that paint isn’t what makes this particular wall special. Evan Bishop showed them that “the magic is in the process,” and that’s what makes this wall-their wall-special.