Dec. 15, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
A massive mural that aims to promote diversity and inclusion is going up on a building in Long Island City.
The artwork, which features a number of people of different religious backgrounds, is currently being painted on the side of 25-17 41st Ave. and is scheduled to be completed by Dec. 17.
The mural is being created by members of Blazay and For Freedoms, two New York City-based artistic groups that produce thought-provoking artwork around the country.
They launched a GoFundMe earlier this month with the aim of raising $10,000 to help cover the cost of the project and to put toward future murals.
The painting will measure nearly 23 feet in height and more than 15 feet in width upon completion.
The artwork depicts five people from various religious backgrounds who are standing in a crowd. There is a man wearing a turban, a Jewish woman with a head wrap, a Native American woman wearing a headband, a woman in a hijab, and a Christian man holding a bible.
The phrase “They Are Us, Us Is Them,” will be painted down the center of the artwork.
The artwork is a twist on Norman Rockwell’s Freedom of Worship oil painting that was created in 1943 and based on President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms.
Robin Alcantara, an artist and founder of Blazay, said the mural represents the diverse makeup of Queens and the acceptance of different cultures and identities in the borough.
“It’s been a really rough year and there has been a lot of division in the country,” Alcantara said. “We felt that coming up to the holiday season this was a timely piece of artwork to promote unity in the community.”
Alcantara, who is originally from the Bronx, said that a team of four people have been working on the mural since Dec. 7 and it took about a week to prepare all the paints.
His team is using industrial-scale paints that have been pre-mixed into oil-based enamels. They are using a scissor lift to move up and down the wall and a special UV coating will eventually go over the painting to protect it from the elements, he said.
Alcantara said that a typical project of this scale costs around $45,000 to produce but his team is providing the labor for free and footing most of the costs.
“It just feels right to give artwork to the community,” he said.
“This mural will bring life and energy to the neighborhood and will be a magnet for people to come and visit,” he said.
Alcantara hopes to produce more murals in the future with a portion of the money raised going towards those projects.
The GoFundMe campaign has raised more than $900 since it began on Dec. 6 and donations can be made by clicking on this link.
Donors who give $50 or more will receive Blazay-styled fashionwear. For example, a donor who gives $50 will be able to get a free shirt or hat, while a donor who gives $300 will be entitled to a jacket.