PUBLIC ART RIKER'S ISLAND MURALS
"COMING HOME THIS SUMMER" 4 Main, EMTC, Rikers Island, NY, June 2018
GROUNDSWELL + NYC DEPT OF CORRECTION. Lead Artist: Julia Cocuzza. #groundswellnyc
Created with approximately 10 incarcerated youth from 4 Main at EMTC, Riker’s Island. Approximately 160 sq ft.
About the design: Because these young men were already serving short sentences and to be released relatively soon, they weren’t interested in broad symbols of hope, nor did they want to reflect the anguish of jail in a mural. They just wanted to make something beautiful that reflects that feeling they’ll have riding back over the Riker’s Island Bridge on the Q100 bus, returning to their lives in NYC with still a little summertime left. Design includes the Riker's bridge, midtown/Times Square, and summertime NYC landmarks such as the Coney Island Cyclone.
"THE WORLD IS YOURS, WEST INDIES TO THE SEVEN WONDERS" 4 Main, EMTC, Rikers Island, NY, June 2018
GROUNDSWELL + NYC DEPT OF CORRECTION. Lead Artist: Julia Cocuzza. Collaboration w/ incarcerated youth from EMTC. #groundswellnyc
About the design: As “Part II” of the previous mural about returning home, the participating youth wanted to launch beyond NYC and travel the world. In our discussions, we constantly spoke about the foreign places they want to go and how being able to travel the world is the ultimate freedom. They spoke of wanting to fly to the West Indies, Rome, Brazil, eventually leading to Seven Wonders of the World: Great Wall (China), Chichen Itza (Mexico), Taj Mahal (India), Petra (Jordan), Roman Colosseum (Italy), Machu Picchu (Peru), and Christ the Redeemer (Brazil).
"THE FLOW OF TIME" Rover's Hallway, RMSC (Rosie's), Riker's Island, NY, June 2018
GROUNDSWELL + NYC DEPT OF CORRECTION. Lead Artist: Julia Cocuzza. Acrylic on cinder block, approx 250 sq ft. Collaboration w/ incarcerated youth from RMSC.
About the design: The participating youth in this project were experiencing extreme anxiety about their upcoming court cases and trying to make the "right" decisions. The concept of time and how warped it can feel while incarcerated became the overarching theme, depicted through spiraling clocks, mazes, and arrows. Though a bit dark psychologically in subject matter, the message is still positive: In time with the right decisions one can overcome and reach their "trophy."
"THE PATH FROM KNOWLEDGE TO FREEDOM" at GMDC on Rikers Island, NY, June 2017
GROUNDSWELL NYC + DEPT OF CORRECTION. Lead Artist: Julia Cocuzza. Collaboration w/ incarcerated youth from 6 MAIN, GMDC. #groundswellnyc
Created over 16 sessions with incarcerated youth from housing unit 6 Main in GMDC, Riker’s Island.
About the design: These young men had a very specific vision including a central figure writing and studying, portraits of their heroes, and stairs leading to the exit to freedom. Although it was disappointing DOC rejected some of the portraits I included in the first design draft (Malcom X, 2pac, Huey Newton), I was able to find a compromise in the final design with less controversial figures (MLK, Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou).
GROUNDSWELL NYC + DEPT OF CORRECTIONS, "THE WALK TO FREEDOM" at GMDC, Rikers Island, NY, June 2017
Lead Artist: Julia Cocuzza, Assistant Artist: Christopher Cardinale. Collaboration w/ incarcerated youth from 8 Upper, GMDC. #groundswellnyc
Created over 16 sessions with a dozen incarcerated young men from the housing unit 8 Upper in GMDC, Riker’s Island.
About the design: These young men, under protective custody while awaiting trail, played chess in the common room. To develop the design we did extensive brainstorming, collage and drawing activities, as well as writing exercises and readings, including lyrics by Leonard Cohen (“Bird on a Wire”) and the rapper Nas. The youth, above all, wanted to reflect the moment they all can’t stop thinking about: The day they get to walk out of Riker’s and be free to restart their lives. Mural is located at the end wall of a very long corridor.
"THE CHAINS, THE MAZE, THE MOUNTAIN TOP" at GMDC, Rikers Island, NY, March 2017
GROUNDSWELL + SCO + NYC DEPT OF CORRECTION, Co-Lead Artists: Julia Cocuzza and Jess Poplowski. Collaboration w/ incarcerated youth from 2 Main, GMDC.
Created over 20 sessions with a dozen incarcerated young men from the housing unit 2 Main in GMDC, Riker’s Island. This particular cohort of young men were awaiting trial, ages 17-21. DOC’s design directive was for the mural to reflect “hope.” They youth wanted to reflect the anxiety they were facing, the mental maze, the desire they have to “break the chains” to physically and mentally overcome this current setback.