Murals

Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education is proud to present the first in a series of murals celebrating the communities and cultural groups of Hunts Point and the South Bronx on the facade of the building. The empowering imagery, which serves as a welcome to Casita Maria, was created by Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez, Art Director and Owner of Somos Arte and interpreted by Bronx-based professional graffiti artists and muralists Tats Cru. This mural is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and Councilmember Rafael Salamanca.
This new mural is presented as a source of unity, education and advancement of knowledge while promoting ambition and career choices for young people and the community. Examples are provided of what young people can learn and achieve when they walk through the doors of Casita Maria while also honoring women and elders like Las Tres Hermanas and Justice Sotomayor and their important contributions for all people in the community. We invite conversation and learning about the mural and encourage healthy dialogue around race, gender, age, history, ethnicity, migration, immigration, and the importance of culture. 
Let’s talk!
The Three Sisters is a coloring book and 2017 exhibition in the Casita Maria Gallery based on the lives of Evelina López Antonetty, Lillian López and Elba Cabrera; three pioneers of the Puerto Rican community. Evelina López Antonetty the oldest sister was an activist and champion for social causes. She was the founder of United Bronx Parents Inc.; a social service agency established in 1965 to serve the Puerto Rican and Latino parents in navigating the educational system for their children. Presently, United Bronx Parents Inc. serves the community in a variety of areas including providing day care services, GED programs and youth enrichment and leadership programs, among others. Evelina was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Manhattan College.
Lillian López the middle sister was among the first Puerto Rican librarians in the New York Public Library system and was the first Puerto Rican Administrator. She was successful in introducing Spanish language books to the system and in developing innovative programs that served the Puerto Rican and Latino communities. During her tenure, López held several important positions including: Coordinator of the Special Services Office, New York Public Library Bronx Borough Coordinator and was appointed to the National Commission on Libraries and Information Sciences’ Minorities Task Force. Lillian received her BA from Hunter College and a Masters in Library Science from Columbia University.
Elba Cabrera the youngest of the three sisters established herself as an ambassador and advocate for the arts. As such, she became the Assistant Director for the Association of Hispanic Arts (AHA) where she promoted activities for over one hundred arts organizations throughout New York City. Cabrera created the Directory of Hispanic Arts Organizations and was the editor for AHA’s bi-monthly newsletter, Hispanic Arts. She also hosted a weekly television program called Hispanic Arts on WNYC-TV. Elba received her BA from SUNY at Old Westbury in Politics, Economics and Societies.

Media:

La Borinqueña is an original character and patriotic symbol presented in a classic superhero story created and written by graphic novelist Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez. Her powers are drawn from history and mysticism found on the island of Puerto Rico. The fictional character, Marisol Rios De La Luz, is a Columbia University Earth and Environmental Sciences Undergraduate student living with her parents in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. She takes a semester of study abroad in collaboration with the University of Puerto Rico. There she explores the caves of Puerto Rico and finds five similar sized crystals. Atabex, the Taino mother goddess, appears before Marisol once the crystals are united and summons her sons Yúcahu, the spirit of the seas and mountains and Juracan, the spirit of the hurricanes. They give Marisol superhuman strength, the power of flight, and control of the storms.
-Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez, Creator & Writer
“Our communities have a rich history of heroes that helped shape the city in which we live in today. Many of us, especially of Puerto Rican heritage, migrated to New York City 100 years ago when we were given our American citizenship in 1917 under the Jones-Shafroth Act. When Las Tres Hermanas arrived in the Bronx decades later they saw and experienced injustices. Puerto Ricans were treated like second class citizens, but that didn't stop the three sisters. Evelina López Antonetty, for example, founded United Bronx Parents to fight for the rights of all children and their families, like the true hero that she was. I write and produce comic books like La Borinqueña or Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, but Las Tres Hermanas are real heroes that our community can aspire to be. We don't need superpowers, all we need is each other.”

Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez

Is the writer and creator of the critically acclaimed and best-selling graphic novel La Borinqueña which he self-published under his own studio, Somos Arte. Edgardo's debut as a writer for Marvel has been received with critical acclaim similar to his initial work with Marvel as curator of two exhibitions Santerians: The Art of Joe Quesada and Marvelous Color. Via Somos Arte, he has a client roster that includes Marvel, Atlantic Records, Columbia University, and various Latino non-profits like ASPIRA of New York, El Puente and the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute. Edgardo was the Artistic Director of Pa'lante Siempre Pa'lante, part of the acclaimed PBS POV Documentary Series which received the Silver Apple Award from the National Media Alliance. He is also co-founder of the graphic novel publishing company Darryl Makes Comics with his business partner, Darryl DMC McDaniels. somosarte.com
Artsits (clockwise, starting from top left): BG183, Bio, Nicer, Emilio Lopez, Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez, Sabrina Cintron

Tats Cru

Is a group of New York City-based professional muralists whose work in aerosol has transformed graffiti into a commercially beneficial art form. In the mid ’80s three teenagers began their artistic careers by creating subway graffiti. What began as an adolescent hobby and recognition tactic has evolved into a powerful, expressively iconic style that has brought TATS CRU to the forefront of the advertising mural industry. For over two decades TATS CRU has spearheaded the battle to change people’s perception of graffiti as an art through their respected work. flickr.com/photos/tatscru
Left image: left to right: Bio, Tats Cru Artist, Edgardo Miranda Rodriguez, Writer & Creator of La Borinquena, Haydee Morales, Executive Director of Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education, David Vazques, (former) Principal of Bronx Studio School for Writers & Artists, Nicer, Tats Cru Artist
Photo credits: Argenis Apolinario, Luis A. Pagan
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