A renowned South African artist has inspired a mural on the streets of New York City

Quartz africa
Quartz africa

The streets of New York have been decorated with splashes of bold colors and prints inspired by a legendary South African artist.

On Sept. 12, celebrated painter, Esther Mahlangu, was honored with a mural at the Citi bike station located between Franklin Street and West Broadway in Tribeca, Manhattan. The work was completed by New York-based artist and educator, Imani Shanklin Roberts, as part of a collaboration between Citi Bike and South African Tourism for Women’s Bike Month in September. Together with the New York department of transport, Citi Bike is working on a project called “DOT Art” which decorates bike stations, streets, and sidewalks in the city with colorful art, sculptures, and murals.

When I first came to New York to attend @prattinstitute in 2009 I didn't imagine that this would be a city I would have a child in, create lasting memories in, let alone have success in my artistry in. Creating a mural in honor of an artist I've known all my life, in a city that isn't welcoming to many, feels unreal. It feels like an aligning moment many of us have when the universe cocreates with us and is in agreement with our path. To you NYC,I present Xola, (Stay in Peace) –((A South African Name I named my daughter–*Alignment*))) a piece that is representative of a feminine energy force that is all encompassing, inclusive and awe-inspiring. Xola welcomes you to charge and open your divine feminine here amidst all that tries to stand against you. This is my form of resistance and protest– my expression. #blessed — photo credit (@ericmtownsend )) THANK YOU!!

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Mahlangu is a distinguished painter whose work is based on the traditional and intricate paintings of the Ndebele people in South Africa. The 81-year-old artist was first introduced to the medium as a young girl, where women were responsible for painting the walls of their homes with the bright colors. Mahlangu’s use of geometric shapes is a nod to the detailed beading and clothing typically worn by Ndebele women.

Ndebele women in traditional attire attend inauguration of Jacob Zuma in Pretoria
Ndebele women in traditional attire Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko

This isn’t the first time Mahlangu’s work has featured on the international stage. In 1991, she designed a version of the BMW for their “Art Car” exhibition and in 2016, she was brought on again to design a model for the 7 Series. Mahlangu’s work has also been commissioned by the British Museum, National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC, and the Centre de la Villette in Paris, France.

🎨Painted BMW #artcar #bmv #esthermahlangu #art #exhibition #contemporaryistanbul #tb

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