Union Square Partnership Unveils 7,500 Sq Ft Street Mural by NYC-Based Artist, RVCC Professor Ji Yong Kim, Along 14th Street
Introduced in partnership with NYC DOT, “Ripples of Peace and Calm” takes inspiration from East Asian art to celebrate New York’s collective experience coming out of the pandemic to a brighter future
New York, NY (May 23, 2022) - This month, the Union Square Partnership (USP) unveils a brand-new street mural installation along the pedestrian areas of the 14th Street Busway between Broadway and Union Square West. Titled Ripples of Peace and Calm, the artwork is designed by Ji Yong Kim, a Sunset Park, Brooklyn-based visual artist, and educator. The mural is presented in partnership with the NYC Department of Transportation’s (NYC DOT) Art Program to highlight the increased pedestrian spaces created by the 14th Street Busway. It will be installed over a five-day period from May 23-27 with the help of community partners and volunteers. The mural’s execution is supported by Street Plans, a Brooklyn-based urban planning and design firm with national and local expertise in delivering asphalt art projects that enliven streets and public spaces.
The design of Ripples of Peace and Calm features lotus flowers, floating leaves and swimming koi fish, evoking traditional East Asian paintings. According to the artist, Ji Yong Kim, lotus flowers are often found in murky hazy ponds, but grow and reach for the light, eventually blooming a beautiful flower above muddy water. The growth and resilience symbolize our collective experience emerging from the pandemic to a brighter, more hopeful future. In addition to the lotus flowers, the koi fish in the mural symbolizes good luck and prosperity, as well as perseverance against hardship. They symbolize not just the Asian community, but all resilient New Yorkers who fought this virus together.
The mural also celebrates the antithesis of hate, spreading peace and calm in response to acts of violence directed toward Asians throughout the pandemic. The street mural features lotus flowers, floating leaves and swimming koi fish, evoking traditional East Asian paintings. The bus lane in the middle creates a distinction between views of the pond, one from above and one from below the water. In the center, a large lotus flower radiates a ripple of peaceful energy, while koi fish swim playfully underwater amidst air bubbles.
The mural’s location in Union Square purposely pays homage to the district’s history as a public place for people to gather in solidarity while fighting for social justice and change, celebrating the role Union Square continues to hold as a community space for public discourse and shared experiences.
“Union Square is a gathering place where people have historically, and will always, come together to stand up against injustices and make their voices heard. Union Square Partnership is honored to welcome Ji Yong Kim’s work to 14th Street, and we celebrate this vital message of resilience, solidarity and unity with the Asian-American Pacific Islander community,” said Jennifer Falk, Executive Director of the Union Square Partnership. “The mural beautifully encapsulates the strength and resilience that all New Yorkers have demonstrated over the past two years, and we are proud to work alongside Ji Yong Kim to bring his artwork to our historic neighborhood. We look forward to welcoming our community volunteers and partners to the installation for the second year, as we continue our work to highlight Union Square’s open spaces in the heart of New York City.”
“I want viewers in Union Square to find themselves standing on vibrating water, finding a rhythm of peace, calm and message of hope,” said Ji Yong Kim, artist of Ripples of Peace and Calm. “Throughout the pandemic, I became acutely aware of being Asian and often feared being targeted by Asian hate crime. My immediate response was anger, hatred and mistrust reciprocated in equal proportion. However, I come to realize that this is the wrong reaction. Responding in hate only further divides and alienates us. Thus, I designed this mural to be an antithesis of hate, resonating with peace and calm.”
“The Ripples of Peace and Calm mural is a beautiful addition to 14th Street that will enhance the experience of everyone who travels on or visits this part of the corridor, which has improved travel times for crosstown commuters,” said NYC DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Edward Pincar, Jr. “We thank Ji Yong Kim, the Union Square Partnership and the community partners and volunteers who came together to make this installation possible and are helping to make 14th Street between Broadway and Union Square an even more attractive destination for all.”
NYC DOT implemented the 14th Street Busway project in October 2019 as a new transit and truck priority upgrade for 14th Street, and as a street design prototype for the city-at-large. The center of the busway crosses the heart of Union Square, where sidewalk extensions were installed to make additional space for walking. These new pedestrian areas are situated in a highly visible confluence of foot traffic and transit access. Ripples of Peace and Calm is the second artwork to activate the pedestrian areas on 14th Street, presenting a remarkable opportunity to support, enhance, and celebrate the new pedestrian-focused infrastructure while communicating an important message and beautifying the neighborhood.
To view the original street mural Ripples of Peace and Calm, stop by Union Square-14th Street from May 27, 2022 onward.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Ji Yong Kim is a visual artist and arts educator from Sunset Park, Brooklyn. He is the artist behind over 10 murals and installations in New York City, with sites ranging from public schools, libraries, community centers and shelters for victims of domestic violence. The most recent mural is “Wonder” (2021) in PS 230, supported by the City Artist Corp grant. He has also led volunteer painting sessions working with NY Cares and cooperative volunteers. He currently teaches at Raritan Valley Community College in NJ, where he has advocated for public art education for over 15 years.
ABOUT UNION SQUARE PARTNERSHIP
For over 45 years, the Union Square Partnership has worked to ensure the best possible quality of life for its residents, businesses and visitors. USP’s programs include sanitation, public safety, economic development, public programming, and marketing services, and we invest in the beautification and maintenance of Union Square Park - the district’s crown jewel. We are dedicated to the neighborhood, and work 24/7 to make sure that Union Square-14th Street remains a phenomenal place to live, work and visit. For more information visit unionsquarenyc.org.
#USQArt is an incredible opportunity to bring engaging artwork to one of NYC’s great public spaces. Exhibitions are presented by the Union Square Partnership with NYC Parks’ Art in the Parks program and NYC Department of Transportation’s Art Program in collaboration with selected galleries and artists.
The Union Square-14th Street district of Manhattan is a thriving hub of culture, food, fashion, tech and cutting-edge businesses. With millions of annual visitors, residents and commuters accessing Union Square and the astounding transit options, the district is one of the most impactful locations to debut public art in New York City.
ABOUT NYC DOT Art Program
The New York City Department of Transportation’s Art Program (DOT Art) partners with community-based, nonprofit organizations and professional artists to present temporary public art on NYC DOT property throughout the five boroughs for up to eleven months. Artists transform streets with colorful murals, dynamic projections and eye-catching sculptures. Sidewalks, fences, triangles, medians, bridges, jersey barriers, step streets, public plazas and pedestrianized spaces serve as canvases and foundations for temporary art. Over the past 12 years, DOT Art has produced over 350 temporary artworks citywide. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/dotart and follow on social media at @nyc_DOT, @nyc_DOTArt.
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