The story behind JR’s New NYC piece

The pasted-up work, on the Bowery, offers a glimpse into the life of an undocumented immigrant
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JR's new work on the Bowery. Image courtesy of the artist's Instagram
JR's new work on the Bowery. Image courtesy of the artist's Instagram

The French artist JR may have closed his NYC exhibition, Horizontal, at the city’s Perrotin Gallery, yet he’s left something behind for New Yorkers to remember him by, and perhaps shed a little light on less visible sections of American society.

His public artwork, pasted on to a wall on the corner of Great Jones Street and the Bowery in lower Manhattan, features Maria Praeli, a 25-year-old undocumented Peruvian woman currently living in Washington D.C.

The photographic image shows just a sliver of Praeli’s face, but over on Instagram, JR offers us a much fuller account, in Praeli’s own words.

 

JR in New York earlier this year. Image courtesy of the artist's Instagram
JR in New York earlier this year. Image courtesy of the artist's Instagram

“Growing up, I never told anyone I was undocumented,” she says to the artist. “I lived in current fear of sharing my status with anyone - what would they think of me? Would law enforcement find me and then deport me?

“It wasn’t until l met other undocumented youth that empowered me to come out of the shadows and proudly state, “I am undocumented and unafraid”. Current political times have created a lot of uncertainty for the undocumented community, but I have committed myself to empower others to speak their truth, and to live their life to the fullest, regardless of their status.”

 

JR: Can Art Change the World?

For more on JR’s place within that empowerment process, order a copy of JR: Can Art Change the World? here.


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