Continuing a long tradition in Latin American art, East Harlem’s buildings have served as a canvas for murals and, more recently, for mosaics. These art works have played an important role in defining the neighborhood as Latin American, advancing social movements, and rebelling against the current political system. But as the neighborhood comes to the attention of the larger world, its challenge will be to benefit from this attention while retaining its unique cultural character.
The tour will be led by Marina Ortiz, whose versatile body of work includes journalism, photography, and other forms of cultural and political expression that reflect her background as a Puerto Rican activist in New York City. She is the director at East Harlem Preservation (EHP), a grassroots organization that fights against social injustices and gentrification while preserving and promoting local history and culture. EHP has worked with community artists to create and restore several outdoor murals honoring political and cultural icons.