MOTT HAVEN — A Brazilian artist inspired by The Bronx's legacy of graffiti spent Monday painting a mural with students from the Mott Haven Academy Charter School.
NOVE, who is based in São Paulo and whose work has been featured in exhibits ranging from London to Dubai, enlisted some students at Mott Haven Academy Monday morning to help on his latest mural on one of the school's walls.
The children each painted a leaf toward the bottom of NOVE's mural, and although it began raining during their work, many said they still had fun taking part in the project.
"If you like to draw, you like to paint, please, believe, trust, never stop," he told the students.
Noeli Garrido, a 10-year-old fourth grader, said she enjoyed spending her Monday morning painting the school, as it gave her a chance to be artistic.
"You get to be creative and use your imagination," she said.
Classmate Catherine Bermudez, 11, said she liked that NOVE, whose real name is João Paulo Cobra, was from Brazil, as she found it fascinating to learn more about a foreign culture.
"I like learning different languages," she said, "and I like working with every kind of different artist."
NOVE came to The Bronx thanks to a collaboration between The New York Foundling, a city charity that has a close partnership with Mott Haven Academy, and Spoke, a new company that focuses on cycling fashion and accessories.
"We’re very inspired by street art, so we’ve tapped street artists from all around the world to create the designs for our products," said Elif Ucan, CEO of Spoke. "And because we think it’s important to contribute to the communities where we’re sold, we incorporate our work into murals."
NOVE is Spoke's São Paulo-based artist, and the company also has artists based in Tokyo, Berlin and Istanbul.
He said that the artwork of The Bronx helped inspire his own artwork.
"I started to paint graffiti. I learned graffiti," he said. "I learned about [The] Bronx, about the guys who started graffiti."
NOVE should be finished with the mural by Thursday and plans to incorporate a large tree that the leaves will have fallen from. He will remain in New York throughout his time in the U.S. and is also scheduled to paint in Bushwick and Lower Manhattan.
Principal Jessica Nauiokas said she hoped that the mural will promote pride in the neighborhood.
"This mural is a perfect example of scholars collaborating to give back to the community by creating and sharing something beautiful, unique, and one of a kind," she said in an email.
NOVE said he likes sharing his artwork with kids and views getting them interested in painting as a good way to keep them out of trouble.
"Follow the dreams inside your heart," he said. "No need to go to the streets and destroy everything."