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Mural Honoring Bed-Stuy Women Set to Be Demolished

By Camille Bautista | October 28, 2014 1:45pm
 "When Women Pursue Justice," a mural featuring female community leaders, is set for demolition in coming months.
"When Women Pursue Justice," a mural featuring female community leaders, is set for demolition in coming months.
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Artmakers Inc.

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — A mural honoring Bed-Stuy's female leaders will have to be demolished this spring.

“When Women Pursue Justice,” a colorful mural featuring the faces of former U.S. Representative and Bed-Stuy native Shirley Chisholm, along with 89 other inspirational women, has honored their legacy on the side of 498 Greene Avenue for close to a decade.

But the wall will have to be demolished in the spring as a result of “serious” rot and damage that threaten the structure and requires demolition and replacement of the wall, its painters said.

“You lose murals all the time, and you basically suck it up — it’s kind of the plight of it being on a wall. They don’t last forever. But this one is different," said Jane Weissman, project director of Artmakers, which painted the mural in 2005.

It will be pulled down when the weather warms next spring, according to Weissman. While its demolition is unavoidable, Artmakers is looking to recreate the 45-by-72-foot piece by hanging a smaller replica on vinyl mesh, possibly at the same site or at another spot.

Weissman says visitors have until April or May to view the original artwork before it's demolished.

"It’s because of the respect that we have for the community which has embraced us that we want to find a way to keep it,” said Weissman, adding that locals shared in the process of creating the art.

The mural depicts Chisholm, who became the first black woman elected to Congress in 1968, and went on to be the first black woman to run for president. She died in 2005, just before the mural’s completion. It also depicts other prominent women, including Dorothy Day, a social activist and Catholic worker who is said to have opened a hospitality house in the area.

In 2006, the work received the National Mural Award from the San Francisco-based Precita Eyes association.

Weissman explained that the group picked Bed-Stuy for the original mural due to the lack of large murals in the area.

“The fact that there weren’t that many in Bed-Stuy was as compelling a reason to us as the notion of honoring Shirley Chisholm,” Weissman added.

“The community really took to this and is heartbroken about the impending loss.”