Cast of Afro-Caribbean Latinas populates 42nd Street mural

Erasmo Guerra writes in the New York Daily News about Sofía Maldonado, a young Puerto Rican/Cuban artist who has been commissioned to paint a gigantic mural on 42nd Street, between Broadway and 8th. Here are some excerpts from the piece, with a link to the full article below.

One woman fist-pumps the air with brass knuckles that spell LOVE. Two fly girls get down to reggaetón blasting from a boom box. These strong, streetwise women are made to stop traffic.

And that’s just what visual artist Sofía Maldonado hopes to accomplish as she works on her cast of Afro-Caribbean Latinas that will inhabit a giant mural to go on display on 42nd St., between Broadway and Eighth Ave., on Feb. 24. “I don’t want to make murals for people to just walk by,” said the 25-year-old, who was born in San Juan..

Maldonado has been working on the 92-foot mural for a month, at an empty storefront on the ground floor of the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Curvaceous and clad in little more than attitude, the women in Maldonado’s giant plywood canvases tower over her as she works in hipster skinny jeans and paint-spattered sneakers. Unlike her characters, she said, “I don’t rock the high heels all the time.”

. . .

When Maldonado moved to the city four years ago to pursue a master’s degree at Pratt Institute,, she was discouraged by what she calls the “privatization of walls.” There would be no more painting abandoned Art Deco buildings in full daylight, as she had done in Santurce.

Instead, she reached out to the skateboarding community, “searching for another kind of interactive surface.”

For the 10th Havana Biennial last March, she painted a skate park there and titled the work “Skate My Patria [homeland].”

Maldonado, who also works on a smaller scale, recently completed a series of cut-paper dolls, and even designed a limited edition can for Coca-Cola’s graffiti series in 2007.

The mural, commissioned by the Times Square Alliance,  a nonprofit that promotes the district, and the Cuban Artist Fund, which supports Cuban artists in the U.S., will be on display through April.

Motioning to the blur of commuters and out-of-towners rushing past the corner studio’s glass windows, Maldonado said she’s bringing to Times Square a community of women from Harlem, Brooklyn, and other boroughs that “tourists and even many New Yorkers don’t really go to.”

“Mujeres que luchan pa’echar pa’lante,” she explained. Women fighting to get ahead.

For the full article go to

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