Some of my very first memories are of sitting next to my dad as he paints a mural, grabbing a brush, and watching as strokes of paint bring figures, shapes, and symbols to life. Both of my parents are artists so to say that art has always been a big part of my life is a bit of an understatement. What I love most about public art is that it is a tool in brining communities together and expressing social or political issues in an accessible way.
I had the opportunity to do my first mural at the Jesuit center, Centro Poggeschi, where I have some of my study abroad classes. My roommate approached me asking if I could paint a quote in the center by former Archbishop of El Salvador, Oscar Romero. He was such an incredible man who advocated for basic human rights in the midst of El Salvador’s brutal civil war. Well, my roommate got it into her that I was good at calligraphy (which I have absolutely no experience with) so I decided to take what I could do, portraits, and incorporate that into this project. And this is what we got…
Everyone, meet Oscar; Oscar, everyone.
Holding a brush really is that exciting!
The wall pre-having it’s life changed
Using a grid to draw his portrait
Completed drawing (the wall isn’t really yellow, just funky lighting)
The most challenging part of the process was differentiating between shapes and their respective colors. Also, accepting that it didn’t need to be perfect and every shape did not need to be accurate or even present. Once that’s been recognized art becomes a lot more fun, if only because you get to throw around the term artistic license and say things like “THIS IS ART!” That’s usually what I say when I’ve messed up…
Our last day in Bologna, students from my program participated in a cooking class at the center (see previous post) and this was our last time in the classroom. Before I headed out to explore the city for one final time my friend reminded me to sign my work. I grabbed a sharpie and wrote my signature below the border, not thinking anybody was watching or that anyone really cared. I turned around to see all my classmates standing behind me and clapping at the work I had done and the effort I had put in. I almost cried it was so kind and validating.
Me and Oscar. The border and the quote are to be finished by another fellow artist and good friend, Ally. This should give you an idea of what it will be life though. The quote is below:
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
Piantiamo i semi che cresceranno un giorno.
Annaffiamo i semi già piantati, sapendo che custodiscono promesse future.
Chissà se ne vedremo mai i risultati ma questa è la differenza tra il Signore capomastro e noi operai.
Thank you Spring Hill Italy Center and Centro Poggeschi for allowing me to create this portrait, I hope you’ll enjoy it for years to come.