NEW YORK CITY — A 17-year-old Bedford-Stuyvesant artist and activist was honored by the city for his outspoken artwork against sexual assault, officials announced on Tuesday.
Max Desir, who is a junior at Leadership and Public Service High School in Manhattan and a member of El Puente Bushwick Leadership Center, won first prize in an art competition designed by the Department of Youth and Community Development to help raise awareness about sexual assault in April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
The winning poster featured a remote control and a woman's face, alongside floating mouths zippered shut. The message on the poster reads, "Nobody Has the Right to Control You!"
“It is my hope that no woman will ever be silenced by abuse,” Desir said in the press release.
Last month, organizations and activists across the city participated in events to raise awareness of sexual assault, including a group of Bed-Stuy organizers who kicked off an anti-street harassment week with a women's dialogue and a chalk party in Fulton Park, where participants wrote anti-street harassment messages on the ground in chalk.
Desir himself participated in one the DYCD's Denim Day events, in which people remember a woman who was raped in Italy only to see the conviction of her rapist overturned by the Italian Supreme Court because of the tightness of the girl's jeans.
Desir takes visual arts classes at El Puente and wants to be an art teacher, DYCD said. He also performs spoken word to raise awareness on community issues.
For winning first place, Desir will get to design his own sneakers at Niketown.
The Denim Day events also included panel discussions, workshops and spoken word poetry addressing sexual assault, as well as a gathering outside City Hall, to help raise awareness about sexual violence and to teach people how to prevent it, said DYCD Commissioner Jeanne B. Mullgrav.
“Max is adding a young man’s voice to the issues of violence and sexual assault, and educating all of us about awareness, empowerment and self-respect,” Mullgrav said in the release.
“For three decades, El Puente has nurtured thousands of young women and men to be leaders for peace and justice by supporting their development and mastery in body, mind and spirit,” El Puente founder Frances Lucerna said in the release. “However, it is through the arts and creative expression that we have witnessed the most powerful personal, as well as community transformation.”