NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Mayor Eric Adams hit the red carpet for his first Met Gala Monday night, and despite his excitement, he used the moment to talk about the countless lives lost to gun violence in New York City and around the country.
He wore a tuxedo that read "End Gun Violence" on the back, designed by Laolu Senbanjo, a local immigrant from Nigeria.
"We know this age, the gilded age, was an age where so many people were exploited," Adams said. "We're not going to return to that exploitation. We're going to be united together. That's my role as the mayor."
When it comes to art, Laolu's philosophy is "everything is my canvas," and this time, it was the mayor of New York City.
"He said, 'Yo, the Met Gala is coming up, I would like us to make something,'" he said. "I'm like, 'Are you kidding me? Let's do it.'"
He was still on cloud nine Tuesday at his studio in Sunset Park. His intricate hand-painted creations have graced many icons, but this was a defining moment.
"There's a time of reckoning, and with the Met Gala, the platform, and this year's theme, something in there just hit me," he said. "I felt like, yeah, there's a lot that could be said."
That theme was Gilded Glamour, a throwback to the gilded age.
"It wasn't such a happy era for people that look like me, so I wanted to pay homage to those souls, those ancestors, who actually paved the way for me to be here," Laolu said.
Masks were a key symbol in the Yoruba culture of Laolu's native Nigeria, and his work is very intentional, called Afromysterics. When done on skin, it is the Sacred Art of the Ori.
"If I want to draw on you, for example, I take a vibe off of you," he said. "Aura is also very powerful. She's not to be messed with."
He works fast, creating the mayor's one-of-a-kind piece in less than 72 hours. He's just grateful to share his art and voice with the world.
"Art can be a tool, and artists can survive, take a bet on yourself," he said. "And I'm excited to be here."
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