New street mural promoting peace has been installed on 14th Street in Union Square

May 31, 2022

All photos courtesy of Jane Kratochvil

A new street mural was unveiled last week along the 14th Street Busway in Union Square. Designed by Brooklyn-based artist Ji Yong Kim, Ripples of Peace and Calm is inspired by traditional East Asian paintings, depicting lotus flowers, floating leaves, and swimming koi fish. The mural’s serene qualities are meant to represent the “antithesis of hate” and promote peace and calm, particularly at a time when the city continues to see a spike in violence against Asian New Yorkers. Presented by the city’s Department of Transportation and the Union Square Partnership, the mural was installed over the course of five days last week with help from Brooklyn-based urban planning and design firm Street Plans, community groups, and volunteers.

According to a press release, the bus lane’s position in relation to the mural creates a clear distinction between two views of the pond, one from above and below the water. In the center of the pond, a large lotus flower radiates a “ripple of peaceful energy” while koi fish swim around playfully.

“I want viewers in Union Square to find themselves standing on vibrating water, finding a rhythm of peace, calm and message of hope,” Ji Yong Kim said in a statement.

“Throughout the pandemic, I became acutely aware of being Asian and often feared being targeted by Asian hate crime. My immediate response was anger, hatred and mistrust reciprocated in equal proportion. However, I come to realize that this is the wrong reaction. Responding in hate only further divides and alienates us. Thus, I designed this mural to be an antithesis of hate, resonating with peace and calm.”

Union Square is known as a public gathering space for social and political activism, making it a prime location for Kim’s mural and all of the public art pieces that have been installed there in the past.

“Union Square is a gathering place where people have historically, and will always, come together to stand up against injustices and make their voices heard. Union Square Partnership is honored to welcome Ji Yong Kim’s work to 14th Street, and we celebrate this vital message of resilience, solidarity and unity with the Asian-American Pacific Islander community,” Jennifer Falk, executive director of the Union Square Partnership, said.

“The mural beautifully encapsulates the strength and resilience that all New Yorkers have demonstrated over the past two years, and we are proud to work alongside Ji Yong Kim to bring his artwork to our historic neighborhood.”

The piece is presented in partnership with the NYC Department of Transportation’s (NYC DOT) Art Program and was designed to enhance the recently expanded pedestrian spaces in the 14th Street Busway.

Ripples of Peace and Calm is the second public art piece to grace the 14th Street Busway during the past year. In August 2021, Brooklyn-based artists GERALUZ and WERC’s Collective Vision mural was painted over the course of five days. The piece was designed to represent the “power of resilience in standing together against injustice and extinction.”


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