Ex Voto NYC is a series of programs designed to explore votive practice today. Memorial Walls as Votive Sites: Tribute, Activism, and Collective Memory is inspired by the question, “Can graffiti be seen as a sacred act?” This conversation brings together graffiti artists, wall muralists, and activists, to explore the history of graffiti and wall murals in the South Bronx, its links to activism and a community’s commemoration of loss. Speakers include urban revitalization strategist Majora Carter, Hector “Nicer” Nazario of TATS Cru, and Janet Braun-Reinitz, an NYC based muralist and civil rights activist.

“You might never think about graffiti in a spiritual context, but in Highbridge, in the Bronx, that is exactly the case. Graffiti artists are often commissioned by Bronx community members to create tributes, in the form of murals, to loved ones from the neighborhood who were victims of untimely and often violent deaths. Unique to major urban areas like the Bronx, these walls offer a place close to home for family members, friends and neighbors to gather, share stories and heal the loss of their loved ones.”
— “Memorial Murals”, www.voicesofny.org/ June 21, 2002


Majora Carter,
“You shouldn’t have to move out of your neighborhood to live in a better one” —Majora Carter

This quote is permanently affixed on the walls of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in DC, and illustrates her ethos of talent-retention in low-status communities, where success is often measured by how far away one gets from their neighborhood, and financial acumen and reinvestment by local residents is viewed as inauthentic. In her teens, Majora watched as her surroundings simultaneously burned to the ground and gave rise to graffiti, hip hop, and b-boys. After graduating from Bronx Science and Wesleyan University, Majora returned to change the physical, economic, and emotional landscape of the South Bronx for the better. Her long list of accomplishments include award winning parks, green job training & placement systems, and new businesses meant to give success a community home.

Hector “Nicer” Nazario
, born Hector Nazario in the South Bronx in 1967, was fortunate enough to be born with creativity running through his veins at an early age. Throughout the 1970’s he played in abandoned buildings, transforming them in his mind into magical worlds of wonder and using his surroundings to create trucks and cars of bricks and wood chunks found in abandoned lots in his south Bronx neighborhood. In the 80’s, as a teenager he was drawn to the colored written graffiti on the Subway trains and walls. He went on to become one of the founding members of The Famous “TATS Crew”. It was his first official introduction to the art world. His work has been exhibited in Museums and Galleries throughout the United States and internationally including The Smithsonian Museum, The Bronx Museum, BOX Gallery Guangzhou – China, Casa de Cultura – Mexico, Hip Hop Paris 2015 – France, Jardin Orange – China, La Jardin Rouge – Morocco. Hector “Nicer” Nazario continues to work and live in New York City.

Janet Braun-Reinitz
believes artists are here to disturb the peace, she is a painter, muralist and activist. Since 1984 she has collaborated in painting more than fifty community murals in NYC, elsewhere in the USA, and in seven international locations. Her studio work has been widely exhibited, selected credits include: a solo exhibition titled “Troubled Waters”, SpazioBocciofila, Venice, Italy, 2016; at the Fabulon Gallery, Charleston, SC, 2017; and currently at the University of South Dakota, Vermillion. Her work is in collections ranging from Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Oakland Museum of CA, Bristol-Myers Corporation, NYC, PAD/D Archives, and MOMA. Braun-Reinitz has been twice awarded “Anonymous”, a grant for the creation of political art in 2014 and 2009. She is the co-author of On The Wall: Four Decades of Community Murals in New York City and has been chronicled in several documentary films including Beyond the Walls (2014), La Grande Jatte in Harlem (2013), The Women of Nostrand and Greene (2006), and FREEDOM RIDERS: The Children Shall Lead (2005).
Additional Events in this Series

November 2
Border Crossings: This and Other Worlds

November 3
Border Crossings: This and Other Worlds

November 4
Border Crossings: This and Other Worlds

December 7
Objects of Care & Resistance from the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands

Leading support for Public Programs at Bard Graduate Center comes from Gregory Soros and other generous donors.