They’re driving this message up the wall!
A team of young artists on Friday unveiled a massive Park Slope mural reminding motorists to drive safely so they don’t mow down innocent pedestrians.
The creators say they incorporated the stories of real victims into their piece, and hope their freshly-painted activist art will knock some sense into reckless drivers and help bring justice to those they have hurt.
“It really touched us hearing these stories where the drivers were clearly at fault and they got off with just a warning, and it seems that’s kind of the norm,” said Marc Evan, a freelance artist who oversaw the mural for public art organization Groundswell, which paid a group of young folks aged 18 to 24 to paint the piece.
The al fresco artwork, which colors the side of a Key Foods on Fifth Avenue at Sterling Place, depicts an open-eyed Lady Justice presiding over a busy Brooklyn intersection, her scales tipping in favor of a vehicle over pedestrians, while she gives the stink eye to a motorist who is texting while driving — a reminder to drivers that their decisions can be the difference between life and death, said Evans.
“He’s at that crossroads turning point where he can put down his phone or seriously injure someone,” he said.
The artists say they glimpsed the tragic consequences of unsafe driving when they spoke to Sofia Russo, who lost her 4-year-old daughter Ariel in 2013 when an unlicensed teen driver fatally struck the child on a Manhattan street. Ariel is immortalized in the mural wearing fairy wings and pink boots, and her story had a big influence on the overall design, Evans said.
“The whole perspective shifted after speaking with Sofia,” he said. “It changed our whole approach towards the mural and the subject matter. It put a really human element to the material.”
The city commissioned the painting to promote Mayor DeBlasio’s so-called Vision Zero initiative, which aims to bring traffic deaths down to zilch by 2024.
Sofia Russo and Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon (D–Brooklyn Heights) both spoke at Friday’s grand reveal in support of the road-safety scheme.