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A 20,000-foot mural in Queens honours doctor who died on the frontline of Covid-19

The monumental street painting by Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada is meant to raise awareness of the pandemic’s disproportionate toll on communities of colour

Somos La Luz, a mural by Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada depicting the Queens doctor Ydelfonso Decoo, who died on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic

A 20,000-foot mural in Queens by the Cuban-American artist Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada is nearly complete. The massive street painting, titled Somos La Luz (we are the light), depicts Dr Ydelfonso Decoo, a pediatrician and one of the first minority doctors to die during the pandemic. Dr Decoo was part of SOMOS Community Care, a physician-led network of mainly Latino and Chinese doctors who treat patients from marginalised communities, like those in Queens hardest hit by the coronavirus.

“I want the mural to create a dialogue, I want people to understand that there’s a disproportionate amount of Latino and African Americans who are dying from the coronavirus,” Rodriguez-Gerada says. “A lot of these deaths have to do with them being on the frontlines. They’re running transit and they are caregivers—they’re the ones that have to go to work and can’t just quarantine and stay home for two months. So we have to really give thanks, and at the same time when there’s so much racial division and normalisation of white supremacy, someone’s got to create something to allow us to mourn.”

The mural is being painted on a city-owned parking lot between the Queens Museum and the New York State Pavilion, and was organised with help from the immigrants rights organisation Make the Road New York and El Museo Del Barrio. Rodriguez-Gerada noted that the high-quality masonry paint used to create the mural could withstand the elements for some time, and that he’s hoping that the mural is “allowed to stay for a while,” though it comes down to negotiations between various city officials. “In a moment where so many things are hitting the nation in ways that are so unexpected and sometimes jaw-dropping,” the artist added, “it’s beautiful to see that we can still come together.”