‘The New Littles’: Artistic Representations of the City’s Ethnic Enclaves

July 20, 2011 at 6:33 pm

Throughout June, WNYC’sBrian Lehrer Show” hosted a weekly radio segment called “The New Littles,” with Andrew Beveridge of Social Explorer, an online website that provides access to census information. The purpose of the project was to highlight new areas of ethnic concentration in the city, which Lehrer referred to as the “Littles.” As part of the project, Beveridge mapped enclaves with more than 20 percent of a specific ethnic group using data gathered from the American Community Survey (2000-2009).

The Little’s Project further materialized into an art contest, in which Lehrer called on artists to paint representations of their cultural communities. From Little Poland to Little Peru, the artists brought their talent and local flavor to depict some of the “New Littles.”

Abbie J. Zuidema, a painter residing in Brooklyn, depicted “Little Thailand” in Elmhurst, Queens. The focus on local Thai restaurants and authentic cuisine reflect Zuidema’s ultimate inspiration: a love of food.

“I wanted to draw a connection between where the people from little Thailand are coming from and also where they are now in Queens,” Zuidema said on the show about the painting, entitled “Hello Little Thailand.”

Abbie J. Zuidema's interpretation of Little Thailand in Queens, painted with watercolor. Photo courtesy of the artist.

David Appleton portrayed his neighborhood of Little Mexico in the Bronx by drawing evocative sketches over a map. There are currently over 70,000 Mexican natives living in Queens. Along with a traditional sombrero, Appleton recalled other Mexican staples like sugar bread, an indulgent treat made on November 2 for Dia de las Muertos (Day of the Dead).

Donald Mulligan, currently an adjunct professor at The Fashion Institute,  also lent his geographic interpretation of Little Mexico…but on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. He added that the area is populated with other Latinos as well, creating a fun, “small town” vibe.

Donald Mulligan, who specializes in drawings for travel maps, presents his experience on the Upper West Side. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Below is the map Beveridge created, showing the concentrations of various ethnicities across New York City.

To see these pieces and more, check out the full slideshow on WNYC.


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