Walter Cruz is a young Bronx creative who is currently the resident artist for the Laundromat Project. The Laundromat Project is an initiative that uses art and creativity to bring communities together. As part of the residency, Walter is able to utilize a community-based studio until April 2018. Outside from the Laundromat Project, Walter is part of another residency where he teaches art to elementary school students.
The resident artists encourages for those in the Longwood community or anyone who is in the area to drop by his studio…his door is always open. Occasionally, Walter holds different workshops for community members to get involved. During our conversation, he mentioned welcoming a middle school class to paint on the back of jackets, a current project he is working on.
The series started on a day that one of the police officers did not get indicted for murdering a person of color. Out of frustration, Walter painted, “Black Lives Matter” on his jacket. Without giving it much thought, he walked outside, and to his surprise, received many compliments. In December of 2016, a few months after painting the first jacket, Walter decided to turn the paining into a series. His reasoning is that in New York City, we are constantly behind someone and we are always seeing someone’s back. Using positive messages that serve as an inspiration is what he wants people to read when they see one of his jackets.
Although Walter has lived in different places around the world including China and Italy, he believes that there is no where like the Bronx and he hopes to stay there. Like many of the people of grow up in the Bronx, the initial goal is to leave the borough and be successful elsewhere. Walter remind us that we are now realizing how beautiful the Bronx is…and to make no mistake, there was no creative emergence, the Bronx has always been that way. He hopes to encourage others, especially the younger generation to not only live in the Bronx, but grow with it.
Towards the end of the interview, I asked Walter what inspires him to create. His response : ” What inspires me is the question ‘ what does it take for us to be free?'” Whenever there’s a movement…whenever there’s a change, artists are always right there.”
Walter hopes to share positivity and power throughout the world.