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NYC's Union Square Gets a Colorful Reminder to Calm Down

The “Ripples of Peace and Calm” street mural is meant to draw attention to newer pedestrian areas and pay homage to the city’s Asian community.

An aerial view of the “Ripples of Peace and Calm” mural in New York’s Union Square.

An aerial view of the “Ripples of Peace and Calm” mural in New York’s Union Square.

Photographer: Jane Kratochvil/Union Square Partnership

After a series of anti-Asian crimes in New York City earlier this year, visual artist Ji Yong Kim’s immediate reaction was anger. But upon further reflection, Kim committed himself to creating an image that would serve to counter the hatred and violence he was seeing.

His “Ripples of Peace and Calm” design, selected by the Union Square Partnership, now graces the pedestrian area between Broadway and Union Square West, as a mural signifying perseverance against hardship. Unveiled last month, the artwork’s blooming lotus flowers are meant to symbolize how the Asian-American community — and New Yorkers in general — are emerging from the hardship of the pandemic in the past two years, Kim said. The mural’s swimming koi fish, on the other hand, represent good luck, prosperity and a hope for a better future.