STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — It was a sunny Tuesday afternoon in Livingston when the Staten Island Youth Justice Center debuted the mural they’ve been working on for four months to friends and strangers passing by.
The mural, “Amor Vida Y Libertad (Love, Life and Freedom)” is a part of the La Isla Bonita series by Lina Montoya is located at 1320 Richmond Terrace, 10310.
The person featured in the piece, inspired by a photograph taken by Montoya, has no defined skin color or gender. A driving theme of the mural, the artist said, is transition.
“My inspiration came music and from the workshops and conversations we’ve had at the Center,” said Montoya. “I made sure to have specific words in the piece, like ’empowerment’ and ‘community.'”
After garnering much attention for her butterfly installation around the boruogh, Montoya said her goal is to paint better than she ever has before. She and her team believe they have done just that.
“The support has been amazing,” said Janice Johnson, coordinator of the program. “I am so proud.”
Steven Kalil, president of Caddell Dry Dock and Repair Co, came by to see the mural and congratulate the artists on all their hard work.
“It has been a privilege to paint on your fence,” Montoya told Kalil with a smile.
“We worked our asses off,” added Lameiak Brown, member and helping hand of the Justice center.
Other participants in the project are Jonathan Reeves, Deanna Mitchel, Hector Vazquez, Dorsey Dasir, Rosalee Cruz, Javier Delvalle, Terrane Murray, Tiffany Tostado, Alajah Mack, Dorian Mitchel, Kiana Garrison, Janice Johnson, and Sumudu Waas, who said some community-minded drivers even stopped their cars to assist in preparation of the mural.
“The mural is of a woman who sends the message to the community about empowerment, loyalty, love, and strength,” said DawnMarie Barbato, after-school program coordinator at the Youth Justice Center. “These participants are part of a program called Justice Community Plus, which prepares the youth for their futures through job readiness while utilizing life skills workshops.”
As she stared intently at the just-unveiled art, Montoya chimed in with: “There is always an opportunity for impact.”