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Shepard Fairey Mural Created With NYC Kids Displayed at World Financial Center

By Julie Shapiro | September 28, 2010 6:35am | Updated on September 28, 2010 11:18am

By Julie Shapiro

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

BATTERY PARK CITY — The last time Shepard Fairey put a mural on display in New York, it was quickly covered in graffiti, boarded up and taken down.

That is unlikely to happen with Fairey’s new mural, called "A Positive Thought Cannot Be Denied," which he created with 100 lower Manhattan students through the nonprofit CityKids Foundation. The mural goes on display Tuesday in the World Financial Center, a Battery Park City office complex.

"We’re not concerned," said Kirsten Connor, executive director of CityKids, which runs after-school leadership programs for teens. "This is work young people produced. It’s really not Shepard’s statement. We’d be really disappointed if anyone misconstrued that."

The 40-foot mural contains pieces of Fairey’s original art and embraces his aesthetic, but the students are the ones who decided on the themes, which include teen violence, access to education and the environment, Connor said.

Debra Simon, vice president of arts for World Financial Center owner Brookfield Properties, also said she expects the three-week exhibit to run without incident.

"That wouldn’t happen here," Simon said, referring to the fate of Fairey’s mural on the Keith Haring wall at East Houston Street and the Bowery. "We have measures to make sure nothing is interfered with."

Fairey visited CityKids three times last spring to teach local high school students about his creative process and to help them brainstorm ideas for the mural. Then, on May 2, he joined the students in a massive TriBeCa block party to create the 8-foot-by-4-foot panels.

Fairey told the students that art is one of the best ways to spread a message, said Steven Prescod, 18, a Brooklyn resident and CityKids mentor who attends LaGuardia Community College.

"He was happy to work with us,” Prescod said. “He really liked the project. Some of us disagreed with him, but he didn’t care, as long as we were speaking our minds."

Fairey did not respond to requests for comment, and a spokesman for Brookfield was uncertain whether Fairey would visit the exhibit.

The mural will be on display from Sept. 28 to Oct. 17 from noon to 4 p.m. in the World Financial Center Courtyard Gallery, above the Winter Garden. Students who helped create the mural will give guided tours and lead discussions about their work on five afternoons during the exhibit.