A Storm, A Church and Three 18-Wheelers

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The line of people waiting for supplies and hot food never seemed to drop below 20,000.

Late October, 2012: Hurricane Sandy hits New York City. The category 3 hurricane causes an explosion in a Lower East Side power factory. In a matter of seconds, lower Manhattan goes dark with a power outage.

Partnering with other organizations, Thrive jumped to the scene to provide relief services to affected people. In the courtyard of PS/MS 34–where Thrive had completed its first mural in 2007–stations providing food and supplies were set up.  The line of waiting people snaked around the netted fencing of the courtyard.

It was at this time that Thrive collaborated with the Coney Island Gospel Assembly, a non-denominational church that had been in the community for decades. Thrive pointed relief agencies and volunteers there, and soon, three 18-wheelers were brought to the site to help with distribution.

One year after Hurricane Sandy, Thrive completed its third ever mural at PS 329. The church had introduced Thrive to the school. Entitled “Resilience,” the mural marked the one-year anniversary of the storm and the grace that the community displayed in the wake of the disaster.

Unbeknownst to Thrive, “Resilience” would end up kickstarting its school murals program. In the same way that we honor the Lower East Side as our birthplace, therefore, we celebrate Coney Island as a place fundamental to our development.

The trucks that were brought for Hurricane Sandy relief ended up never leaving the parking lot of the church. So nine years after the storm, Thrive did the only reasonable thing that an arts organization specialized in murals would do if it had a few 18-wheelers just lying around.

That’s right. We gave them a makeover á la Thrive.

The theme for the trailer murals was conceived by Lase, a member of the legendary TATS CRU, a graffiti group formed in the late 1990s whose members have since come to be regarded as “The Mural Kings.”

In a sketch sent to Thrive’s Jeremy Del Rio, Lase drew the words Faith, Hope, and Love in rounded, unadorned lettering. Over the next three days, members of the TATS CRU Nicer and Bio brought Lase’s sketch to life while multiple Thrive artists drew murals that represented personal interpretations of Lase’s drawing.

Scroll through the pictures below to see how the artists’ initial sketches evolved into the final murals!

Like Thrive, the project was a symbolic return to beginnings for Mural Program Director Marissa Molina. “When I first started with Thrive,” Marissa explains, “the first project I did was the ‘Resilience’ mural, so it’s nice to circle back after all these years of working with Thrive.”

Listen to more people’s reflections on the project and see stunning behind-the-scenes footage in the video below!

We were thrilled to collaborate with the TATS CRU on such meaningful work, and we treasure the reminder of how faith, hope, and love can bring strength and renewal in the midst of grief and pain.

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