JR in NoLita: Giving Agency to Native Americans
As a part of an ongoing series of pastings, JR installed his latest piece at the beginning of the week at the corner of Prince and Mulberry streets in NoLita. For this series of works, the artist chose to apply his usual style of black and white portraiture to Native Americans. In the case of this latest piece, the figure is shown with black lines across his face and a contrasting polka-dotted background.
However, the most striking feature of this work is the person’s face, which is shown contorted in a painful scream. Since the colonization of the United States, Native American nations have been erased throughout history books as well as physically. By displaying this man’s portrait silently screaming several stories tall, JR is giving agency to an issue that runs throughout the United States’ past. Individuals who encounter the piece are forced to confront the trauma of colonization that has been ignored and that can best be seen in the figure’s expression. His face shows his desperate strains to be heard, but no sound comes out. However, thanks to JR’s work this man’s suffering has a voice that can be seen six stories tall.
Text and Photo: Rhiannon Platt