Artists Use Giant Heads to Honor Hispanic Activists of the Lower East Side

In the dense neighborhoods of Manhattan's Lower East Side, remembering the key activists from the 1980s helps residents to build a strong community.

Roman Primativo

The Loisaida Center hosted their 30th annual Loisaida Festival Community Parade and Pageant on May 28th, 2017 celebrating the shared history and culture of the Lower East Side neighborhood of New York City, known affectionately by local residents as “Loisaida”  

This year a team of artists, puppeteers and street performers were invited to spend a one month residency at the center to create the puppets, masks and costumes which breathe life into the parade.

They created a series of “cabezudos”, or big head puppets, paying homage to many of the departed poets, activists and community leaders who played key roles in shaping and preserving the vibrant culture of the Lower East Side.

The artists also created artworks based on the exhibition currently hosted at the Loisaida Center entitled “La Lucha Continua/The Struggle Continues”. The show features murals that were painted in the neighborhood during the mid 80’s, depicting the social issues of the time, many of which unfortunately continue to this day, giving the shows title striking prescience.

By breathing life into the living history of this rich, diverse and vibrant neighborhood, the Festival proves the power of community is still alive and well.