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125th St. Harlem Mural Project - Photo Essay

Updated: Oct 21, 2021

In expanding my encounters with public art through the months, my exposure into the world of fine arts has also greatly increased. Similar to Forester, I have never painted a mural before, nonetheless, I never paint much in the first place. Although I’m usually behind the camera looking through a lens, taking a step back to observe the art from a distance, I’ve also had to switch my own lens (pun intended) to take a closer look at the art I’m engaging with.


I always thought of painting as being much different from photography, however, after this experience, I can say that my notions have been proven wrong! There are great similarities between these two crafts. As a photographer it can be hard to decide how you want to fill the space in your viewfinder and to work with that as your canvas. Whether it be taking a low-angle or a high-angle, using a portrait lens or a wide-angle lens, it can all make a huge difference. Oftentimes, I find that having the world as your canvas can seem like an easy thing, but it can also be overwhelming. A lot of the time you just need to shoot your shot, or if anything, take the shot.


For paintings, especially with murals, space is essential and learning how to fill each space can be quite a challenge. With painting, you just have to take that first stroke and your hand will be able to guide you through the rest. I am extremely grateful to have been given this opportunity and to also be along this journey with the mothers in sharing their stories with the rest of the world to see.


Jess Rolls and Concourse House Mothers-apprentices beginning their day sharing some laughs.

Jess and CH mothers sharing their ideas for the flower-based mural.

Photo Credit: Jess Rolls (2021)
Photo Credit: Jess Rolls (2021)


Ms. Dayanara Savinon's tattoos that provided inspiration for the flowers.

Photo Credit: Jess Rolls (2021)

F. Thorburn and Isabelle Gutierrez painting. This was their first time painting a mural!


Photo Credit: Isabelle Gutierrez (2021)

Forester and Jess enjoying the New York City sun while washing and cleaning paintbrushes.

Photo Credit: Isabelle Gutierrez (2021)
Photo Credit: Isabelle Gutierrez (2021)

Jess Rolls beginning her creation of the first flower, a sunflower, while looking at her sketches for inspiration.

Photo Credit: Isabelle Gutierrez (2021)

Jess and Forester's attempt at using cyanotype materials for the last portion of the mural.

Photo Credit: Isabelle Gutierrez (2021)
Photo Credit: Isabelle Gutierrez (2021)
Photo Credit: Isabelle Gutierrez (2021)
Photo Credit: Isabelle Gutierrez (2021)

Forester gathering her materials and utilizing them to wash away the cyanotype solutions.


Photo Credit: Jess Rolls (2021)

The Sunflower, Rose, and Moonflower finished!

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