On Rogers Avenue, between Sterling Place and Park Place in Crown Heights, is one of the most unique pieces of street art we’ve seen recently. It’s a sculpture, often tucked behind refuse and recycle – a cast of a homeless boy, “J” who was 8 years old when the piece was installed last June by J himself, his mother and artist KW. The accompanying plaque reads:
J is 8 years old and lives with his mother and brothers in a homeless shelter in Brooklyn. This cast of his shoulder, this carbon copy of a fragment of him, was made on 06/02/15. This is his shoulder, that day.
Before J and his family came to the homeless shelter in Brooklyn where he now lives he lived in another homeless shelter. Before that he lived in yet another shelter. Before that he lived in another homeless shelter. But before that, he says, we lived here.
But then he was much shorter.”
Without having to say much, even in the plaque, the piece is a powerful reminder of neighborhood change and the state of homelessness and affordability in New York City. The partial body could reflect J’s own split identity, with the physicality of attaching a copy of one arm with fist clenched to his old home.
We’re not exactly sure who artist KW is, but we wonder if it could be Brooklyn-based artist Kehinde Wiley. Any ideas?