New mural dedicated to Black activist women’s labor on view

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A mural by artist Helina Metaferia, which is on display at Dreamyard.
Photo courtesy of Helina Metaferia

A series of new public artworks anticipated for installation across all five boroughs over the next few months features a mural in the Bronx depicting Black women and social justice.

Artist Helina Metaferia was one of five artists selected to participate in Not a Monolith, a new public art and professional development initiative for NYC-based emerging Black artists. Her piece, “Headdress 13,” features education justice advocate Zakiyah Shaakir-Ansari of the Resistance Revival Chorus, and is the latest iteration of Metaferia’s “Army of Women,” which she has created through her “By Way of Revolution” series since 2018. This interdisciplinary series collages activist histories from civil rights generations as crowns on modern day Black women activists, drawing attention to the often-overlooked labor of Black women within care politics and social justice.

In partnership with DreamYard and the Bronx Pro Group, “Headdress 13” was installed in the Bronx on the south building facade of the DreamYard Project building at 1085 Washington Ave. The mural will opened for public engagement in late October and will remain open for six months.

Metaferia told the Bronx Times she is proud to have her work on display and has received positive feedback.

“So far, I feel love from the community,” she said. “This project is reflective of the community.”

Metaferia, 38, of Harlem, is an interdisciplinary artist working across collage, assemblage, video, performance and social engagement. Her work interrogates the body’s relationship to sites, especially as it relates to notions of identity and citizenship.

According to Metaferia, she has been artist her entire life. As a kid, she was always doodling and making characters, and in high school had teachers that encouraged her to pursue her passion. From there, she never stopped.

“I didn’t know it was a possibility to be an artist,” she said. “I didn’t come from a family of artists.”

Art has always allowed her to express herself, she said. Whether it is about social justice, activism or Black women, all of these topics and more are evident in her work. She hopes that with all of the monuments being taken down nationwide, including the recent one at City Hall of Thomas Jefferson, some black women will replace them.

“I’m somebody who has a lot of ideas and opinions about the world,” she said. “I’ve always been interested in what it means to be free and liberated.”

Reach Jason Cohen at [email protected]om or (718) 260-4598. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes. 

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