A life-sized Ndebele-inspired mural painted across a road in Tribeca is the latest muse of New Yorkers. According to Daily Vox, American muralist Iman Shaklin Roberts painted a two-lane mural, honouring legendary Ndebele artist Esther Mahlangu. The mural marks the collaboration between South African Tourism’s office in the United States, South African Airways and the New York bicycle sharing platform, Citi Bike.
Roberts took to Instagram to share her inspiration behind the mural, explaining that it represents “a feminine energy force that is all encompassing, inclusive and awe-inspiring”.
When I first came to New York to attend @prattinstitute in 2009 I didn’t imagine that this would be a city I would have a child in, create lasting memories in, let alone have success in my artistry in. Creating a mural in honor of an artist I’ve known all my life, in a city that isn’t welcoming to many, feels unreal. It feels like an aligning moment many of us have when the universe cocreates with us and is in agreement with our path. To you NYC,I present Xola, (Stay in Peace) –((A South African Name I named my daughter–*Alignment*))) a piece that is representative of a feminine energy force that is all encompassing, inclusive and awe-inspiring. Xola welcomes you to charge and open your divine feminine here amidst all that tries to stand against you. This is my form of resistance and protest– my expression. #blessed — photo credit (@ericmtownsend )) THANK YOU!!
In October last year, the 81-year old Ndebele artist was awarded with the 2016 Minister’s Award at the Lilizela Awards which was held at Sandton Convention Centre. The South African Tourism industry paid tribute to Mam’ Esther for being a tourism innovator and pioneer.
Mahlangu is no stranger to the Lilizela Awards, previously a category winner in the Roots and Culture category. Mahlangu’s bold, colourful and grasping Ndebele designs have landed her deals with global brands like BMW (contributing to the interior of the new BMW 7-Series), British Airways, Fiat and Belvedere luxury vodka.
Additional reporting: Daily Vox