Fri, 26 May 2017 09:47:12 GMT
Several months ago, New York-based design and real estate development firm GDSNY, approached Johannes Leonardo with an opportunity - a media placement had become available on the side of a building right on the Chelsea highline. It was also during this time that those same creatives were looking for a vehicle to voice their dissent towards Trump’s border wall. These two factors led them to #WallThatUnites, a giant digital wall made up of real world street art, created with messages of hope and acceptance.
Paul Gregson a senior art director from Manchester, England was one of the creatives that felt that something needed to be done.
“There was an overwhelming sense of helplessness regarding the Mexico border wall,” said Gregson. “People in the agency were looking for ways to let Washington know that we didn’t think this was right. At the same time this wall in Chelsea popped up, so we turned our attention to an outdoor idea that would resonate with the way people were feeling.”
From there the project grew into a movement that uses wall art to offset Trump’s border wall.
“Trump’s border wall is 1900 miles of intolerance, division and stupidity. It was giving walls a bad name, so we wondered if we could use walls for good” said associate creative director Omid Amidi, who is originally from Libya.
The project encourages people to create street art with themes of unity and tolerance and post photos of them to Instagram under #wallthatunites.
From here the Wall that Unites team stitches the walls together digitally to create a much larger wall. The plan is to create enough positive wall art that when combined together will stretch longer than Trump’s border wall - 1900 miles.
His wall divides, theirs will unite.
“We realise it’s a pretty audacious goal but the reaction from people so far has been great, it really feels like we’ve tapped into something that people care about,” said Argentina-born associate creative director Joaquin Lynch Garay.
After only a few months the project is gaining serious traction, with interest from schools, artists, businesses and festivals from all over the world.
“The project isn’t just limited to graffiti; so far the team has received digital walls, gifs and street performances,” said Lynch.
One of the most recent additions is from spoken word maestro, and New York local, Oveous.
Growing up in New York to Dominican parents, Oveous shared the frustration of the recent immigration policies and felt a strong connection to the project.
So he created a poem entitled “Hola America.” An homage to Latin American immigrants and the pivotal role that immigration has played in the growth and prosperity of the US.
Currently touring Australia and Asia, Oveous performed the poem in front of a wall in Brooklyn with the Manhattan skyline as the backdrop to heighten the sense of being locked out.
It’s seems that Trump’s rhetoric is something that has had a profound effect on the agency that bills itself as a global agency based in New York.
“JL is a bit of a United Nations,” said Johannes Leonardo co-founder Leo Premutico. “So this effort is an organic reaction from our people to the recent immigration policies. There was no brief, no client attached, just an available wall and something we believe in.”
For more information or to contribute visit wallthatunites.com