It would be hard to miss the giant pair of eyes when walking past the Weston Hotel on 48th street.
Those deep blue eyes belong to a young boy, forever etched on the side of a building, looking up towards the sky.
At first glance, the viewer simply sees an innocent boy surrounded by flowers. But painted in the boy’s eyes are victims of child trafficking: one child is laying bricks in a brick factory and another is carrying heavy wood.
The non-profit Street Art for Mankind (SAM) has partnered up with the International Labour Organization to use art to combat child trafficking. Jorge RodrÍguez-Gerada (known on Instagram as @gerada_art) is the artist behind their most recent mural.
The boy represents hope in the concrete jungle and the fantasy and dream of childhood, according to SAM Co-Founder Audrey Decker. According to Deputy Director of the International Labour Organization Vinicius Pinheiro, there are currently 154 million children being forced into labor.
“The paintings, they touch your soul, your heart, while the speeches and the numbers, they touch your brain. So we want to have the full package, brain, soul, and heart, to mobilize actions like this one – to eliminate child labor and forced labor,” says Pinheiro.
The mural is part of a 30 minute Art Walk in Midtown comprised of social justice murals celebrating the centennial of the International Labour Organization.
The murals depict social justice and fair employment challenges that the organizations are working to combat including green jobs, gender equality in the workplace, and eradication of child and forced labor.