Local art teacher looking to bring surrealist art to South Bronx mural

Bronx Latin high school art teacher John Riveaux is hoping to interject some street art into the South Bronx neigborhood through a series of murals.
Photo John Riveaux

From the spacious mural of late Puerto Rican hip-hop legend Big Pun that adorns Intervale Avenue to the decadent murals of baseball greats outside Yankee Stadium, The Bronx has its fair share of beautiful artwork.

Now, a local art teacher is hoping to add some more vibrancy and color to South Bronx neighborhoods through a series of surrealist schoolyard murals.

John Riveaux, the sole high school art teacher at Bronx Latin, currently has reached $1,600 of a $6,000 fundraising goal on GoFund Me for a set of mural projects located at the school’s 800 Home St. campus.

Street art, Riveaux told the Bronx Times, is weaved into the fabric of the NYC borough.

“Street art is part of the DNA of Bronx culture,” he said.  “Through contributions to the proposed mural project, we can help make the South Bronx an unforgettable destination point representing neighborhood beautification, community pride and an exemplar of arts and public education to support life-long learning in New York City.”

The mural is set to be painted on a wall that is approximately 200 feet in length, 14 feet at its highest point and six and a half feet at the lower tier. Riveaux said the murals will incorporate themes of space, hoping to add a “surrealist and deeper” imagery for onlookers.

“When the kids are out playing and they are looking out and about, what are they looking at?” he said. “So I was thinking, ‘why don’t we put things out on the wall for people to see’ like the stars and the sun to give them a sense … they are looking into space and something beyond where they are standing.'”

Additionally, Riveaux said he has entertained the idea of adding marine animals — sea turtles and blue whales — to create an illusion of the animals “swimming in space.” The portrait will also include marbles meant to adopt the form of planets.

Riveaux also hopes the mural can be an appreciation of the celestial and natural world, as the latter has been gravely affected by increasing climate change events.

“When it comes from the right place, I believe that art transforms,” he said. “In order for [an artist] to believe their work is important, they have to make something that’s transformative, something that can have a greater effect on someone when they see it.”

Upon reaching his GoFund Me goal, Riveaux said he plans to work on the mural in the early mornings until late August or early September. And by the time school is back in session in September, Riveaux said he hopes he can make the mural a collaborative after-school project with his students.

A portion of the funding for the project, Riveaux said, is to host an event celebrating the completion of the mural.

“There’s a lot of ways in which I want to get students involved in it, but I also want to get some former students involved with this project as well,” he said. “In the end, I want for this mural to be completed and I want to celebrate and share it with the school, with the potential to invite students, parents and people of the neighborhood to enjoy this mural.”

Reach Robbie Sequeira at [email protected] or (718) 260-4599. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter @bxtimes and Facebook @bxtimes

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