World-class aerosol artists painted a tribute to an FDNY Emergency Medical Technician who died performing her duties in Soundview.
Borough-based TATS CRU and FX Crew, professional graffiti artists and mural makers, donated their time on Thursday, May 25 to paint a tribute mural remembering EMT Yadira Arroyo.
Arroyo passed away in the line of duty on Thursday, March 16 in Soundview after a career criminal stole her ambulance and dragged her behind the vehicle.
The mural dedicated to Arroyo includes a large image of her in her EMT uniform, a depiction of Station 26 in the Morrisania, known as the ‘Tin House,’ and includes inscriptions like “forever in our hearts.”
The mural is part of a larger one dedicated to the community in 2015 at Morrison and Westchester avenues, and Arroyo is placed in that mural next to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
William Rivera, Community Board 9 district manager, said that the board donated paint for the mural, and that it was a fitting tribute to the EMT who gave her life in service to her community.
“The TATS CRU and FX Crew are artists from our district who are supportive of the great things happening in our district and tragedies through art,” said Rivera. “They go all over the world representing the Bronx…and it is great that they sometimes come back to where they came from and do this community artwork for free.”
Rivera said that he was in touch with Arroyo’s cousin, who said the FDNY EMS members who knew her or worked with her were appreciative of the mural effort.
“They are looking forward to thanking the artists personally,” he said.
Wilfredo “Bio” Feliciano, one of TATS CRU founding members who worked on the mural dedication, said that the artwork took five to six hours to paint, from roughly 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
A colleague of Arroyo’s from the FDNY’s EMS unit provided the artists with a pencil sketch of Arroyo, and working off of that, as well as photos, it was created, he said.
Generally speaking, memorial walls are some of the more intimate work that TATS CRU does within the community, he said.
“You are dealing with actual people who lived and were loved in the community,” said Feliciano, adding “It is different from painting a regular mural for us.”
Even though the artists may not have personally known Arroyo, seeing the pain and the aftermath of painting memorials to fallen community members is something that can be an emotional experience, he said.
Alfredo Oyague, FX Crew founder, said the group picked the larger mural that depicts community icons to paint this latest update because it was a section that had depicted Afrika Bambaataa.
Bambaataa, a rapper who helped found the Universal Zulu Nation, was originally painted on the wall in 2015, because of his roots in Soundview, according to a previous Bronx Times story.
But since then allegations against Bambaataa involving sexual abuse has emerged.
The location was experiencing vandalism, said both Oyague and Feliciano.
Oyague said that putting Arroyo in the larger mural was a fitting tribute to a woman who paid the ultimate price in an effort to save lives as an EMT.