Gunshots and Brush Strokes – Favela Painting
When art is leveraged properly, it is not only enjoyable to look at but it can also be a catalyst for social change. This sounds fruity, I know, but true.
I worked for a few years in New York City for a non-profit called Publicolor. They would enter into ‘at-risk’ schools and design a vibrantly colorful mural in one of the public areas. We would then recruit kids from the school to participate in creating the mural as an after-school program. The kids would be taught how to professionally prep, prime, paint and clean up. The final product would be something that was big, bold and screamed, “I give a shit about this place”. The kids who showed exceptional interest stay on for the next level of the program where they work on weekends teaching and assisting the volunteers who come in to help paint. They learn a marketable skill, they get paid, they mentor and the take ownership of their space in the neighborhood. The program is awesome. You should give them a call and volunteer if you are in NYC.
This process and aesthetic is being applied to the stacked and rolling favelas in the notoriously dangerous slums of Rio de Janeiro. The artistic team of Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn (Haas and Hahn) founded Favela Painting and are storming these troubled neighborhoods with ambitious vision, paint, color, training, employment and an aesthetic ownership that is priceless. They have completed three major projects and have their sights set on something monumental. Their ultimate goal is to paint an entire hillside favela in the center of Rio.
Quoting from the Favela Painting website:
“This project involves employing the inhabitants of a favela to paint their own houses according to a pre-arranged pattern. It will turn their community into an artwork of epic scale and will produce an explosion of color, joyfully radiating into the world. Visible from the center of Rio, ‘O Morro’ will draw attention to the city’s deplorable social situation, while instilling pride and joy in the at the bottom of the social hierarchy.”
Super-hero shit right there.
Feeling inspired? Drop by their website and toss a donation their way. Call up Publicolor and see in what ways you can help out. Organize something similar in your own community. This world isn’t going to color itself positive, we need to grab a brush, a bucket, some spit-fire motivation and we need to make it happen.
The big daddy. The Santa Marta Project
The Rio Cruzeiro Project
From their site:
“Our second large painting in Vila Cruzeiro was finished in 2008, It was situated on a massive concrete structure, built to protect the hill from mudslides during the rainy season.”
Check out this video clip that shows how often gunfire would erupt during the creation of the mural. It is such a common part of life that it barely fazes anyone, even the children…… hell, even the kitten.
The Boy with a Kite
“The first painting, finished in 2007, was a 150m2 mural depicting a boy flying a kite, by far the most popular pastime in Rio’s favela’s.”