In the growing campaign to make arts education available to city youth, hip-hop celebrities and their friends came together this fall at RUSH Art Gallery in New York City to unveil a National Arts Mural created by children in six cities across the United States.
The mural, comprising large-scale paintings of bridges in New York City, Chicago, New Orleans, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Cincinnati, Ohio, is the culmination of the “Building Bounty-ful Bridges” program launched earlier this year in a partnership between RUSH Philanthropic Arts Foundation and Procter & Gamble’s Bounty brand. The goal of the program was to create an art exchange for youth, with the mural representing a “bridging” of the space between the cities’ youth.
On Oct. 28, hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, co-founder and chairman of RUSH Philanthropic Arts Foundation; American fashion designer/humanitarian Tory Burch; and Bounty brand president Eric Higgs were joined by hip-hop pioneer Rev. Run, formerly of the group RUN-DMC, and seventh grade students of P.S. 165 in New York for the unveiling of the 33-foot painted collection of bridges.
The P.S. 165 students, who painted smaller scale interpretations of the completed work, critiqued the mural. “I like this project because I can experience new things and meet important people.” said Bryan, a seventh grader whose painting interpreted the broad skies of the mural. “I want to work with forensics and travel to cities like Tokyo when I get older,” he added.
Simmons commented on the importance of the creative process, telling the students that the life and the career choices they made should be seen as a painting — to be visualized and then created by them. “I am satisfied with the outcome and always feel we could do more with charity and the arts,” he said of the mural.
Asked about future murals and the likelihood of the program expanding internationally, he said “We’ve only covered six cities so far and will work with others within the nation first.”
Rev. Run had words of advice for children who have no opportunity to express themselves because art programs have been downsized or cut altogether. “When you find something you want to do in life, don’t give up. It’s not up to the children to seek artistic opportunities for themselves, it’s up to us.”
“Building Bounty-ful Bridges” was important for Bounty, Higgs stressed. “Bounty is about making solutions and being depended on when it comes to children and cleaning up their efforts,” he said.
On a purely personal note, Burch thanked Russell Simmons for involving her in the project, saying that she was only there because of him and her love for children and the arts. Following the event, a portion of the mural was sent to the White House to represent the creativity of America’s youth.