July 15, 2021
Artist Edwin Gil experienced homelessness as a teenager in Medellin, Colombia. Now his latest mural, the 52nd in his “Faces of Diversity” series hangs at the HELP Meyer Mental Health Shelter on Ward’s Island in New York City.
The mural, which took six months to create and install, represents the diverse residents of HELP Meyer and the city’s population of people experiencing homelessness writ large.
Meyer serves single males faced with mental health issues while they are on their journey toward affordable, permanent housing. In addition to the social services, basic shelter amenities, and health services they receive, HELP USA provides Meyer clients with art therapy as a way to positively express their feelings.
Meyer residents attended a workshop with Edwin to learn about the techniques used to create his “Faces of Diversity” murals. It is a skilled process using hand-painted cut glass to create faces and figures. The workshop also gave clients a constructive venue to connect with their fellow residents and share stories. They also helped in the creation of the mural. Mr. Gil used the smudged fingerprints of clients to create texture on the mural’s background tiles… a permanent testimony of their time at Meyer.
“The presence of art is a simple way to spark reflection,” says Gil. For Meyer residents, Gil’s mural brings a sense of beauty and dignity to their daily life.