Windows to Our World
Windows To Our World’ murals utilize the building’s architectural cathedral indentations shaped like windows to open guests to several themes - Hispanic Heritage, Black History, The Environment and Caribbean Heritage. These themes continue work designed for programming of the facility’s Ansin Family Art Gallery. The 2023-24 graffiti style murals are in recognition of the 5oth Anniversary of Hip Hop in America and are the creation of artist Carlos Americo.
Windows to Our World 2023-2024 Artist: Carlos Americo
Based in Miami, Carlos Americo is a multidisciplinary artist that explores today’s image-oriented culture through experiments in mark making. He created a character named CAMNUT from a single line and has developed it as a formal element that is consistently used throughout his work.
“Being a part of Windows to Our World murals this year is an invaluable opportunity for me to express our collective narratives through art”.
Hispanic Heritage: Celia Cruz, Queen of Salsa 1925-2003
Celia de la Caridad Cruz Alfonso – Celia Cruz – was born in 1925 in Havana, Cuba. In a career that spanned six decades, Celia became the “Queen of Salsa,” and was central to the genre’s rising popularity.
In 1950, she became the lead female singer for La Sonora Matancera, Cuba’s most popular orchestra. Over the next years with the orchestra, her popularity continued to rise. During the Cuban Revolution in 1960, Celia (touring in concert in Mexico at the time), made the decision not to return to the island. In 1961, she moved to the USA and married Pedro Knight, her longtime friend and trumpet player. Celia was a true pioneer of AfroLatinidad, focusing on the African elements of her identity (music, lyrics and dress). Over the course of her career, Celia recorded more than 80 albums and songs, earned 23 Gold Records, and won five Grammy Awards. In May 2005, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History opened the exhibit “Azucar!” celebrating key moments in Celia’s life and music. In March 2011, Celia was honored by the United States Postal Service with a commemorative postage stamp.
Black History: Alain Locke, Father of the Harlem Renaissance, 1885-1954
Alain LeRoy Locke was a philosopher, writer, and educator born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He graduated with honors from Harvard University in 1907 and became the first African American to be selected as a Rhodes Scholar. He joined the faculty of Howard University in 1912, teaching English. He received a PhD in philosophy at Harvard in 1918, and then returned to Howard.
Locke created a booklet series, Bronze Booklets on the History, Problems, and Cultural Contributions of the Negro. The booklets became a standard reference for teaching African American history. Locke is best known as the creator of the philosophical concept New Negro which would initiate the Harlem Renaissance (1925–1939). This was a period of significant contributions of African American artists, writers, poets, and musicians. Locke also organized traveling art exhibitions of African American artists and mentored many talented writers and poets including Langston Hughes. He was reportedly a supporter of African American LGBTQ+ artists and writers during the Harlem Renaissance.
Locke retired from Howard University in 1953 and moved to New York City where he died from complications of heart disease at age 69.
Earth Month: Greta Thunberg, Swedish Environmental Activist
Known for challenging world leaders to take immediate action for climate change mitigation.
Greta Thunberg was born in 2003 in Stockholm, the daughter of opera singer Malena Ernman and actor Svante Thunberg. She was eventually diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) and selective mutism. In one of her first speeches demanding climate action, Thunberg described the selective mutism aspect of her condition as meaning she only speaks when necessary and said “Now is one of those moments”.
In late 2018, Thunberg began the school climate strikes and public speeches by which she has become an internationally recognized climate activist. She first got the idea of a climate strike after school shootings in the United States in February 2018 led to several youth refusing to go back to school. In August 2018, Thunberg decided to not attend school until the 2018 Swedish general election on September 9, after the heat waves and wildfires during Sweden’s hottest summer in 262 years. Her demands were that the Swedish government reduce carbon emissions in accordance with the Paris Agreement, and she protested by sitting outside the Riksdag every day for three weeks during school hours with the sign Skolstrejk för klimatet (school strike for the climate). United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres also endorsed the school strikes admitting that “My generation has failed to respond properly to the dramatic challenge of climate change.”
Thunberg published a collection of her climate action speeches, No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference, in May 2019 with the earnings being donated to charity. She has inspired many of her school-aged peers in what has been described as the “Greta Thunberg effect”.
Caribbean Heritage: Maurice Bishop, former Prime Minister of Grenada and Leader of the New Jewel Movement.
Maurice Bishop and his New Jewel Movement (NJM) inaugurated a four-year transformation in Grenada in 1979, which Bishop described as a “Bright New Dawn.” Bishop’s NJM is considered an example of the possibilities of a reimagined society. The NJM envisioned a world of participatory and popular democracy based on inclusion and fairness. An ardent internationalist, Bishop’s interest in nonaligned nations made him a thought leader in exceeding the limitations of Western interests during the Cold War. Bishop’s courage, oratory, and sweeping plans for societal transformation have been made known the world over.
Bishop became Prime Minister when he deposed then Prime Minister Eric Gairy who was travelling out of the country. In October 1983, after internal dissension within the NJM led to a dispute between Bishop and his Deputy Prime Minister Bernard Coard, Bishop and other Cabinet officials were assassinated. His life and those of the NJM are considered a testament to the importance of the continued struggle for liberation.