in the Public Realm
Harlem River Park Mural 'The Flowers of the Past and the Gardens of the Future'

The Flowers of the Past are the Gardens of the Future
Janet Braun-Reinitz
Sites at this Tour Stop...

The Flowers of the Past are the Gardens of the Future

About this Tour Stop...

This mural consists of three archways that act as windows into the past and present time. The focus is on nature; local plants inspire the foliage in each archway. The first archway features a community garden, which are seen in many parts of Harlem. The second and third archways are inspired by the Manahatta Project and feature the red maple trees, prairie flowers, and more that are specific to the area and existed in abundance in this habitat for over 5000 years before the first settlers arrived. Throughout the entire mural is patterning. Some of the patterns are taken from Kente cloth, Lenape tribal clothing, and Central American pottery; students created the other patterns featured in this mural. The students created symbols that they felt represented them and repeated the shape with a stencil to create the pattern. For example, the alligator represents Florida, where one of our team-members was from originally, while the clover represents the idea of being lucky in life. We wanted to create a connection between the new green space of the park and the landscape that was here before. Also, in our current daily lives in the urban landscape we see so much highway, asphalt, cement, and metal and we are trying to bring something more organic into what we see everyday. The arches themselves were drawn from the architecture of 139th and Lenox. The seagull perched on the pylon is an everyday occurrence in the park. Other elements in the mural include: a student sitting and sketching, and a fruit cart. These elements reference current activities in the park and in the neighborhood and what we hope will continue to be. The fruit that is being sold represents different cultures and food traditions from Harlem.