Fifteen Coney girls teamed up with three artists to help bring beauty back to a Mermaid Avenue community garden nearly destroyed by Hurricane Sandy — in the form of a dazzling new mural.
The painting at Santos White Community Garden — a green space almost obliterated during last year’s superstorm — features a blue-green mermaid, evoking both the neighborhood’s aquatic surroundings and the name of the avenue the garden sits on. Residential towers, tenements and houses rise among the sea-girl’s long tresses, along with the faces of residents and gardeners. A script beneath the image reads “Coney Island Rising.” The painting symbolizes the enduring spirit of Coney Island in the face of catastrophe.
“It’s meant to give a vision of hope moving forward,” said Sharon Polli, a spokeswoman for Groundswell, a community group that helped make the mural a reality.
Groundswell connected the Coney Islanders with affordable housing groups Astella Development and Lisc, which — along with local business owners — helped the girls brainstorm ideas for the image. Groundswell also had acclaimed street artist Swoon teach the young women her mural-making techniques. The People’s Playground youth then sketched their suggestions for the artwork, and Groundswell artists Yana Dimitrova and Jazmine Hayes helped them create a cohesive design.
After a summer of hard work, the new mural — and restored garden — served as a reminder of the neighborhood’s tenacity and resilience.
“It was a moment for everybody to pause and come together, and think on how far we’ve come since a year ago,” said Polli.