Ivan Forde mural covers façade of Rockaway Hotel

The Rockaway Hotel’s latest mural commission, Seascape With The Fabulous Plant of Rejuvenation In The Abzu, by multidisciplinary artist and Baxter St. guest-curated program alum Ivan Forde is now on view at the property. The 90-foot-long mural—rendered in vivid shades of blue derived from the artist’s original cyanotype work—will grace the façade of the hotel, located at the intersection of Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Beach 108th Street in Rockaway Beach, Queens.

Ivan Forde’s first large-scale public work poeticizes Rockaway’s history and depicts an underwater seascape of literary characters alongside local fish and birds. Centered around the magical plant from the ancient Mesopotamian epic poem “Gilgamesh/He Who Saw The Deep,” Forde’s mural presents a boat with sailors, the hydrodynamics of water, and a mysterious diver among an amalgamation of healing plants, including those used in Forde’s birthplace of Guyana, native to the Rockaways, and cultivated across cultures.

It will acknowledge Forde’s extensive research of history and ancestry, ranging from the artist’s conversations with his father to the legacy of the Rockaways’ indigenous Lenape people.

“My project takes cues from the structures of epic poetry, the legacy of Rockaway’s indigenous Lenape people, conversations with my father, who is a trained agriculturalist, and folk traditions our grandmothers and great-grandmothers knew,” Ivan Forde said. “These knowledge systems are paramount to the discussions the mural aims to hold space for—discussions that align with a symbiotic relationship to nature, essential for healing both the human species undergoing a global pandemic and the planet itself. Rockaway is a unique community with an intimate relationship to the coastland.”

Ivan Forde working on, Seascape With The Fabulous Plant of Rejuvenation In The Abzu, mural at The Rockaway Hotel

The new mural and its programming build on the Rockaway Hotel’s groundbreaking commitment—spearheaded by Michi Jigarjian, Managing Partner, Creative/Chief Social Impact Officer—to presenting public art and supporting local, national, and international artists at the hotel and in its surrounding community.

“The Rockaway Hotel believes in the power of art as a connectivet issue that brings people and communities together,” Jigarjian said. “Arts and cultural initiatives, including bringing public art to the Rockaways, are a major part of the hotel’s vision and ethos, and we are thrilled to partner with Ivan Forde, the 7G Foundation, and Facebook Open Arts on this exciting project.”

About Ivan Forde

Ivan Forde (b.1990) works across printmaking, photography, sound performance, and installation. Using a wide variety of photo-based and print-making processes (and more recently music and performance), Ivan Forde retells stories from epic poetry casting himself as every character to reflect on migration, memory, and homeland. His non-linear versions of these time-worn tales open the possibility of new archetypes and alternative endings. By crafting his own unique epic poems and inserting himself in historical narratives, he connects the personal to the global and offers a transformative view of prevailing narratives in diasporic cultures.

Ivan has been included in group exhibitions and performances at The Kitchen, The Jewish Museum, Syracuse University Palitz Gallery, MICA, MCA Chicago, The Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

His works are included in the permanent collections of The Studio Museum In Harlem, Syracuse University Art Museum, and the Escalette Collection at Chapman University.

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