Artist bio

Mariah Barrera is a Mexican-American filmmaker born and raised in Michigan, currently based in New York City as a sophomore at Columbia University. With over 30 awards for her art, Mariah is a National YoungArts Foundation alumni and Hispanic Heritage Foundation Awardee. Her work has been screened at festivals like DOC NYC and highlighted by Adobe and NowThis. Her films aim to contextualize themes of social justice and equity through the lens of her family’s experiences in the urban midwest. Using these stories, Mariah is passionate about bridging the gap between narrative and documentary through the use of poetry.



I Found God in New York City



Artist Statement

I FOUND GOD IN NEW YORK CITY is a short, autobiographical film that explores a young girl’s struggle to feel God’s presence in New York City. Through simplistic black and white visuals and poetry, the film details her disillusionment with the “city of dreams” but more importantly, her earnest prayer for God to reveal himself, and give her the strength to chase after him. Not just for her, but for the entire city.

How it fits into contest

While living in New York City as a college student, I’ve witnessed firsthand the spiritual battle that this city endures. When I first moved here, I was quickly disillusioned by the spiritual heaviness that sometimes blankets the city. It was so easy to attribute it to the aspects of this “world” – success, gratification, pleasure, money, accolades, accomplishments, etc. I eventually realized though, that all of the worldly pursuits that this city encourages are really symptoms of root spiritual problems: fear, insecurity, and lies from the devil about what success, happiness etc. looks like. This film shows how someone deals with interpreting the spiritual battle described in 6:10-20, and not feeling God’s presence as much as they should. It is mostly about, though, the latter half of these verses, which focuses on praying and asking God for alertness, and the right words to make his presence known. The last half of the film is my prayer, my cry out to God to show me where he dwells, so that I can see him more clearly and make this city experience the joy of his presence too. In many ways, this film is my own way of “declaring it fearlessly.” Declaring that God is here, we just need to seek him and not let the authorities of the dark world cloud our purpose in this city. I hope that with this film, I can inspire Christians especially in this city, to seek God in the midst of the battle. To armor themselves with his words and to cry out to him when he becomes lost in the day-to-day hustle and bustle. In hopes that we won't just be strong in the Lord’s power, but that we can encourage an entire city to be, too!


Cierra Barrera
Sherry Garcia
Keya Saxena

How to Purchase this Artwork


Other Goods & Services Available from this Artist

I am a filmmaker and photographer that works independently and in a freelance capacity. Any inquiries can be directed to Thank you!

Music / Sound Sources

Purchased music to use on a music forum from Elume (receipt provided below).

Transcript / Lyrics

E.B. White said that, “Manhattan has been compelled to expand skyward
because of the absence of any other direction in which to grow.”
But I think Manhattan grows skyward,
to catch a glimmer of God.

And it's not that He isn’t here,
his image has just become hazy, behind the fog
of steam rising from the middle of the streets,
or the buildings that block the sun
from reaching the city, when we need it most.

I think they all believed that the closer we are to the sky,
the clearer we could hear him.
The more we could whisper,
yet still make our voices known.

And it’s not that his voice,
can't permeate even the
hardest of concrete,
or the thickest of steel.

It's just become muffled,
under the sound of car horns
and the millions of people with their minds
and souls scattered every which way.

His words became discarded,
being replaced by the fears that
begin to fester inside of every dream,
we desperately cling to.

The fears of missing our train,
or our turn to cross the street,
or our moment, our person,
our breakthrough.

It's the city of dreams,
until they become discarded
left to sift in the cold streets,
and be tossed to and fro.

Manhattan grows skywards, but sometimes
I can’t help but feel like it's leaving me behind.
Out of breath, pacing towards finish lines,
that aren’t even mine to cross.

So God, show me where you dwell down here,
in these burrows.
Where your face peeks through the buildings.
Where your spirit dwells in the empty space,
between me and every stranger.

Where your peace stays afloat in this sea of chaos
Where your stillness sweeps over
this city of constant motion.

Give me wings like eagles,
so I can run towards you and not be weary.
So I can walk and not faint
until I know you clearly – and this city does the same.

You have overcome the world,
and New York is no exception.

So I will wait, for as long as it takes,
until I can recognize your face
and hear your voice,
all around me.

Like Manhattan,
I, too, will fly skywards.

For the Lord my God is here, in New York City,
and will be with me everywhere wherever I go.

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