This is the Icy and Sot mural on Wythe Avenue between S. 6th Street and Broadway, on the back of TBA Brooklyn (which is a café and club that is currently closed down). The mural is about seventy feet long. As you can see, the art features a group of children in black and white looking up into a massive down pour of color. People traveling down Wythe Avenue for the first time stop in their tracks to take in this sight. People from the neighborhood intentionally take a route down Wythe Avenue to appreciate the mural.
Generally, the neighborhood has had a positive outlook on the addition of the mural. The art has been seen as the positive beginning to many of the resident’s day. One woman who jogs everyday has said she has changed her daily jogging route in 2013 in order to pass the mural. Such a large display of positivity most definitely adds to the atmosphere of artsy Williamsburg. An elderly woman, who lives around the block from the mural, says it makes her think. She admits she’s not crazy about the idea of graffiti, but this piece is an exception. She said the piece had intellectual inspiration and was not just random nonsense.
The street artists, Icy and Sot, create art to display a message. Their usual themes are of issues with poverty, war, children, and censorship. Icy and Sot are Iranian brothers, so a main focus of their work is Iran. The artists have said in interviews, though, that their themes can apply worldwide. They started their art in 2006, while this specific piece was created in 2013. They are very expressive of their opposition to what they consider “outdated social norms.” The two brothers left Iran because street art is illegal and uncommon there. In Iran if you get caught creating street art, law enforcement will charge you with other crimes such as Satanism. Also there are only about 9 other people engaged in the street art scene there. Since the brothers left Iran they can never come back to visit their parents. Icy and Sot came to America for the freedom of expression and great increasing admiration for street art.
The themes carried out by the duo attract attention to Iran. Iran is a big offender of basic human rights. Human trafficking is at large and Iran does not do much to stop it. Families living in poverty often send their children to provide an income. Iran also does not allow its citizens to access social media and they are very censored. In the mural the colorless children are being showered in color. The message is up for interpretation. One interpretation I found in interviews was that the image highlights the innocence of children. Another is that it looks like the children are seeing in color for the first time. Both are plausible because of Iran’s exploitation of children and censorship
This mural is an illustration of a personal theme. When graffiti art began, it was a movement to fight for the freedom of expression. After that battle was won, artists began to take to more personal motifs and agendas. Icy and Sot display an important reminder of the innocence and lack of corruption in children. Iran has forgotten this and allows for the mistreatment of its children. Icy and Sot continuously use children, the elderly, and women in their work. They say this is because these are the most vulnerable in society. They are the innocents. The connotation of vulnerability with these figures allows for a more powerful emotional response to their messages.
So why did Icy and Sot choose this building? In Iran they chose places that had many views, and with low risk of getting caught. In the United States however, the artists chose legal walls to work on. For a beautification factor, they choose a piece that will fit the building nicely.
Most residents appreciate the mural because it’s aesthetic. When initially asked about the mural, residents talked about the beauty of the art instead of the goal of the art. This mural is a common focus for photographers and an inspiration for budding street artists. Ever since Icy and Sot created their mural, other artists took to the neighborhood to create colorful masterpieces of their own. Street art in the neighborhood inspires creativity in other artists and the locals.