Black-Lives-Matter-Art
Image via Beatriz Ramos for The Americano

Latinos represented and expressed their solidarity to the Black Lives Matter protests by adding color to the empty streets of SOHO.

Photos by Beatriz Ramos. Essay by Yehudit Mam.

NEW YORK — When the luxury shopping district of Soho in New York City was looted during the Black Lives Matter protests, plywood promptly appeared on the shop windows and Soho was a changed neighborhood: closed, forbidding, empty, and colorless.

According to artist Miriam Novalle, “the boards, which flew up during hot protests for racial justice and looting expressing outrage over the deaths of George Floyd and other black and brown Americans, were at first a way for store owners to protect or repair their broken storefronts. These plywood panels are now a way for people of all races to express the longing of the human heart to connect and to heal society for each other — to ultimately repair broken systems and to protect our essential equality”.

Novalle made a call to artists “to bring optimism, healing, and love by painting and posting messages of compassion and courageous change on boarded-up buildings”.

Latinos represented and expressed their solidarity with street art.

Artist Miriam Novalle from Art 2♥ invited artists to create street art on the plywood covering the boarded-up storefronts of Soho, bringing art and messages of unity, justice, and hope to the neighborhood.

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Timeless political graffiti from Simón Bolivar.

In memory of Jessica Hernandez, who was 17 when she was killed by police in Denver, Colorado.

Freedom of expression. Freedom of worship. Freedom to live without poverty. Freedom to live without fear.

#sayhername: Layleen Polanco, a transgender Latina, was sent to Rikers Island because she could not pay $500 bail. Two months later she was found dead in her cell.

The Virgin of Guadalupe appears in Soho as a modern-day ex-voto: popular art as prayer.

A play on words: Are we united?

A simple message: The infinite freedom to live.

Superman and a Superwoman.

Venezuelan artists AV and Alberto Barreto at work.

Portrait of Elijah McClain by Beatriz Ramos, who also took the photos for this essay. She explains: “As an artist, I was very tempted to paint over those wide empty plywood boards. But it was also a way of expressing our feelings as we live through the pandemic and the protests. I felt that after the looting it would be nice to have art, because I believe that art makes people feel good and it helps us reflect about what goes on. The case of Elijah McClain is barely known and it is a devastating case of injustice. I wanted to memorialize him.

Mexican artist Gerardo Burgos brings Ollin, the symbol for an earthquake in the Aztec calendar, to Soho.