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Groundswell Community Mural Project ©, www.groundswellmural.org


Community Mural Action Program, 2011

Location: Youthful Offender RNDC corridor, Rikers Island, NY

Lead Artist: Chris Soria

Assistant Artist: Misha Tyutyunik

Youth Artists: 12 Participants between the age of 16-18 y/o

Community Partners: NYC Department of Corrections, NYC Department of Education

Medium: Acrylic

Dimensions: 24 x 8 ft.



This project, entitled “Balance,” was a partnership between Groundswell and Rikers’ East River Academy RNDC.  Professional artists Chris Soria and Misha Tyutyunik gave a brief synopsis of the origin, tradition, philosophy, and applications of Feng Shui. The students participated in a “mind mapping” activity to generate and organize ideas based on each element represented in the Feng Shui Compass. The students used free association to explore words, images, and expressions in response to the interacting energies represented.

In response to the concept of balance, the students came up with the metaphor of chess, suggesting that the game has a lot of similarities to life and the ideal of balance that practicing Feng Shui aims to achieve. Inspired by Atlas, one of the students designed a chess piece in which a man is holding the world on his shoulders. That piece was further developed by the class to include a yin yang and 8 arms, representing the eight elements of Feng Shui.

As this project unfolded, students felt they had a space for wholesome dialogue and personal insight. The project became a space for inclusion and collaboration, involving youth from diverse backgrounds and perspectives.

Throughout production, the mural project was widely responded to with encouragement, praise, and positivity by the students, detainees, and Department of Corrections’ staff alike. The mural’s creation inspired detainees to create their own works of creative writing, poetry, and artwork. Open discussion and contemplation about the piece occurred regularly, providing a platform for healthy dialogue and reflection.

This project was made possible through support from the New York State Council on the Arts.