The distinction recognizes Massa for a track record of creating environmentally conscious works, and for his visionary push to incorporate increasingly sustainable practices in the public art community.
He was commissioned to design a large-scale mural to be painted on the side of the Q404 Hunters Point Campus in Long Island City, located just across the East River from the United Nations Headquarters.
Massa has taken the past, present and future of Newton Creek, which is also located near the mural site, as his subject.
With students from Hunters Point Community Middle School, The Academy for TV and Film, and The Riverview School beginning to reenter the campus after a months-long lockdown, the piece is intended to serve as both an educational resource and visual reminder of accountability for the planet.
“We are excited that Federico Massa, a.k.a. Iena Cruz, is painting with us,” said GPI founder Stephen Donofrio. “He’s a gifted artist whose work is indicative of how the creative community can use their platform to tackle social and environmental justice issues like climate change.
“This piece will inspire young people who have already proven themselves as leaders in the climate crisis and show that art and purpose can help us build a greener, healthier and sustainable future,” he added.
The public arts project comes as part of a Climate Week NYC initiative formed in conjunction with the UN General Assembly, with the goal of harnessing artistic expression to spotlight global climate issues and motivate action toward a more sustainable future.
An internationally reputed street artist, Italian-born Massa believes in art as a “powerful medium that can help raise awareness of the daily harms we inflict on our planet.”
His Hunters Point mural, which aligns with the “Nature & Science” theme for this year’s Climate Week NYC, illustrates how industrialization, climate change and the health of our communities are all intertwined.
The installation represents the city’s first piece of carbon neutral street art, and produces a minimal environmental footprint. Massa will use recycled and repurposed materials in addition to environmentally friendly Smog Armor paint that actually purifies the air.
GPI will document the street art process on its social media channels, as well as promote a short film about Newtown Creek.
“Climate Week NYC is all about sharing experiences, knowledge and a passion for making change happen,” said Adam Lake, who heads Climate Week NYC for the Climate Group. “The scale of this mural, and the creative storytelling that it embodies, will be both a beautiful and effective way of instilling these three things.”