Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Peace, Water and Solidarity Mural

Mural Size: 95' x 5'8"    Medium: Spray paint & house paint    Location: Phoenix, AZ  More Photos of Water Mural Project
      People have been painting in the Americas for a very long time, for many Indigenous nations, painting was a way to get closer to the sacred. To Indigenous peoples, symbols had the power to heal, grow or destroy. The act of painting on a wall wasn’t always for making “art”, it could be used to transmit a message or communicate information, and sometimes it was used in combination with the oral traditions to pass on knowledge from one generation to the next. The colonization of the Americas censored and appropriated Indigenous knowledge, libraries were burned and sacred paintings destroyed. All the artists on this community mural project are descendants of Indigenous nations from Latin America and North America. We’re not just painting on a wall, but we are passing on the oral traditions of the community we are painting in. Our process is very much based on the oral traditions, before banned books there were banned walls.  
       Water is life; it's something that we can't ignore because we live in a desert. Water is the common denominator; it connects us (portraits) all together. 

Edgar Fernandez working on vines around Tonantzin Portrait 
       Oral traditions were passed on from one generation to the next by word of mouth, and important memories were kept alive and passed on. Stories about sacred sites, events, and people formed the Indigenous paradigm, since 1492 there has been a paradigm shift toward a destructive paradigm. The destruction of Indigenous libraries and wall paintings was part of this shift away from an indigenous way of life, one of coexistence and respect for the natural environment, one where earth is our mother [the portrait of the figure of Tonantzin, an   earth/mother goddess, reflects a recognition of this indigenous perspective]. 
      Edgar and I went to the neighborhood at 16th avenue and Taylor a before the starting the mural to talk to people for a few hours, we wanted to know where people were coming from and get the community’s perspective. We decided that we would paint portraits of people that represent peace, people from different cultures that reflected the neighborhood’s diversity of cultures. We also left some room for more community input.


       The mural wasn’t funded by any organizations. The project was mostly accomplished through using house paint donated by good friends. I found gallons of white paint by the dumpster one time when we had run out of white paint, and on top of that I spent $200 of my own money on house paint and spray paint. Ace Hardware came through towards the end of the mural by donating quarts of house paint. 

      Part of the negotiation to paint on the wall included painting a peace sign, it was fairly easy including it into the concepts we were working with. We were also mindful of the demographic of the neighborhood at 16th avenue and Taylor, and this is why we painted portraits of people that represented peace from different backgrounds. Gandhi, Mohammad Ali, Mother Theresa and Cesar Chavez to us represent different manifestations of the same idea. We left some wall unpainted in case people from the community wanted other portraits to be included.

       We thought the portraits were a good representation of people who sought peace and justice, who were affected by colonization and the paradigm shift it brought with it, and who were agents of social awareness and changes. Geographically specific to us, and many other places on earth right now, the water border around the mural added a common denominator because everyone needs water to survive, especially in Phoenix, AZ. Like the portraits, water is also representative of disruptions in peace and justice, and the effects of colonization.

List of Artists                                                      Assistants
Julius Badoni (ASU)                                            Israel Bobadilla
Edgar Fernandez (Phoenix College)                   Melissa Gracia
Ky Thornton (Phoenix College)                           Juan Vera
Keisr Munoz
Ramon Aguirre (Phoenix College)

Bring something good to the community. 

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