Giant Mural of Local Community Leader With a Symbolic Plant Promotes Equality and Inclusivity in Brazil

Mona Caron Mauro Neri Mural in Porto Alegre

Towering high over Porto Alegre, Brazil, a community leader sees her face on the side of a government building. It's a momentous occasion for Bia Gonçalves, also known as Bia da Ilha. She hails from the peripheral neighborhood of Ilha da Pintada, an area with deep Afro-Brazilian roots, and she is a well-respected figure in the community. Her face, and the plant she holds, were used by artists Mona Caron and Mauro Neri to send a message of inclusivity.

More than 140 local entities and 50 local artists helped make the mural a reality. For the artists, the concept started with a plant known as “justice” used in Afro-Brazilian religious rituals. The plant is believed to cast out negative energies and in doing their research they were introduced to Bia. As a Umbanda priestess, she was able to give the artists a deep explanation of the plant and its meaning. She is also very active in her community, a historic neighborhood for Black Brazilians. Here, she participates in community organizations, speaks out against domestic violence, and works to preserve the area against real estate developers trying to gentrify the neighborhood.

Now, Bia's face takes on a different meaning. In the mural titled Quebra-tudo, Abre Camihos (Break Everything, Open Paths), she looks to the sky with her palms out. The justice plant weaves through her hands and caresses her face, almost touching the top of the 20-story building.

More than half of Brazil's population identifies as Black, yet Black Brazilians make up a very small percentage of elected officials and company executives. Over the past few years, there has been a strong push by Black Brazilians to embrace their identity and fight back against racism. Through this artwork, the artists hope to start a dialogue about embracing cultural identity, creating representation in government institutions, and bringing together peripheral and downtown communities.

The scope of the work and the people involved are a bright spot of hope that the justice the artists hope to represent is closer to becoming a reality.

Mona Caron and Mauro Neri painted a 20-story mural in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

Mona Caron Mauro Neri Mural in Porto Alegre

The mural depicts local community leader Bia Gonçalves.

Mona Caron Mauro Neri Mural in Porto Alegre

The plant, called justice, is used in Afro-Brazilian religious rituals and is said to cast off negative energy.

Mona Caron Mauro Neri Mural in Porto Alegre

Titled Quebra-tudo, Abre Camihos (Break Everything, Open Paths) the mural aims to start a dialogue about identity, culture, and justice.

Mona Caron Mauro Neri Mural in Porto Alegre

Mona Caron Mauro Neri Mural in Porto Alegre

Learn more about Bia Gonçalves and why she was selected for this mural project.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Mona Caron (@mona.caron)

And listen one of the state's few black district attorneys discuss the impact he hopes that the mural will have.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Mona Caron (@mona.caron)

Mona Caron: Website | Instagram | Facebook
Mauro Neri: Instagram | Facebook

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Mona Caron.

Related Articles:

Massive 20-Story Flower Mural Sprouts From Jersey City Skyline

Giant Flower Mural Painted Across 5 Surfaces of a Building in San Jose

Gorgeous Murals by L7m Blur the Line Between Realism and Abstraction

Street Artist Uses Flowering Trees as “Natural Hair” To Complete Portraits of Women and Girls

Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
Become a
My Modern Met Member
As a member, you'll join us in our effort to support the arts.

Sponsored Content

[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]