It’s not often you see people taking pictures of a public school, but when you walk by the murals at Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education which shares its building with Bronx Studio School for Writers and Artists, then it all makes sense. I visited the 83-year-old community arts organization, located on the 6th floor, to learn more about the murals and their upcoming exhibit Arte de La Borinqueña.
Along the entrance of the school at 928 Simpson St. you’ll see three murals, each with its own story and meaning. The murals were created by Edgardo Miranda Rodriguez and his team at Somos Arte and painted by TATS CRU, a Bronx based professional muralists group. The project took about a week to complete. The first mural is of Las Tres Hermanas, a trio of sisters who became activists for the arts. The second mural is a Puerto Rican superhero named La Borinqueña which I’ll get to later, and finally on the entrance doors of the school is a mural of students making art, playing music, sports, reading, and engaging in positive extracurricular activities.
La Borinqueña’s mural was based off a snapshot from writer and creator Edgardo Miranda Rodriguez’s best-selling and critically acclaimed graphic novel. He designed the mural, and three members of TATS CRU, each with their specialty did the paint job. Accompanying La Borinqueña are Puerto Rican icons Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Josê “Dr. Drum” Ortiz and Melinda Gonzalez, who are shown celebrating a graduation with students. The staff at the Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education hope this mural will inspire all students who walk through these doors to accomplish their goals. Casita Maria’s Associate Director of Creative Arts Programs Gail Heidel tells me, “La Borinqueña whose powers come from her Puerto Rican heritage and culture is also a metaphor for all people to look to their history and culture for strength.”
October 4th is opening night for the Arte de La Borinqueña exhibit. 35 different professional artists have created their prints of La Borinqueña, all of which will be on display until January 6, 2018. The prints were donated by London-based gallery: Art You Grew Up With International. Limited prints will be on sale for $200 with the proceeds going to hurricane relief efforts for Puerto Rico. “We want to raise as much money as possible for Puerto Rico.” says Marketing and Media Manager for Casita Maria Luis Pagan. The exhibit opens on the eve of New York Comic Con. There are hopes that avid collectors will attend the exhibition as a pre-game for the biggest comic book convention in New York City. The opening reception is from 6-8pm. Edgardo Miranda Rodriguez will be in attendance.