In the waters just beyond the marina of Fortaleza, Brazil, rests the Mara Hope, a former cargo ship that was stranded during a journey from Texas to Taiwan, where it was scheduled to be scrapped due to intense fire damage it had sustained. The wreck was officially declared unsalvageable in 1985, and has rested half a kilometer off the city’s popular Iracema Beach ever since.

When Brazilian graffiti artist Narcelio Grud considered the rusty blot on the local seascape, he decided to reimagine what couldn’t be removed, and to improve the view with public art. Local fishermen helped Grud and some artist collaborators sail to the ship, where, with 300 liters of water-based paint, they daubed the vessel in a rainbow of colors, using brooms and gravity: pushing, pouring, and splattering. Mimicking the effect of light refracted through a prism, a spectrum of colors streams across the deck and down the hull of the Mara Hope, now rechristened (RE)Prisma.

The work became part of the project Para Ver O Mar (To See the Sea), a series of urban art interventions along Fortaleza’s coastline. Through these artistic alterations, Grud and his colleagues hope to imbue unsightly areas and objects with refreshed aesthetic appeal.

Jen Dolen is a photographer and is on the editorial team for Public Art Review.

From Public Art Review #54, where this article originally appeared in Projects We Love as “(RE)Prisma.”
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