“This isn’t a watercolor, it is a mural.” – Erich Segal
Something in that quote indicates the power and life of a mural. From my experience with the community mural in San Miguel, I can attest to the innate power, and lasting impact a mural contains on the artists involved and the space transformed.
We painted for 5 days, about 3 hours a day. I made the children form lines to receive supplies; a trash bag to put over their clothes, a paintbrush, and a color of paint. Their energy is beyond control at this point, it would take a military general to get them to listen, but I try in Spanish – Don’t paint your friends, don’t paint yourself, don’t paint the floor, don’t paint any other wall except this wall. We begin, I am mixing colors, and passing them out, while Lillian, Tiffany, Erin and Gasun are working with the kids on applying the paint into the chalked out areas. Most of the boys are screaming at me “TEACHER TEACHER, YO QUIERO VERDE,” while the girls want orange, reds, or purples. Then I hear Lillan, “Hannah I think we have too much green, we need brown.” Well, I mix brown, but no kid wants to paint with brown, they all want green. At this point we have been painting for 30 or so minutes but I have not seen a glimpse of the mural. I put a hault to the color mixing, and walk up behind the kids painting the mural, and the mural is absolutely amazing. The image is invigorating, the energy from the kids is invigorating, it is immediately one of the most rewarding moments of my life.
Excited, I turn around to start mixing colors again, and there on a not to be painted wall is the name FRANCO in bright orange paint with a bright orange square around it. Not happy I call over Franco and ask him, “¡Por Qué!” he says nothing. He just looks at me with his eyes, and he might be the only kid in San Miguel who has bright green/blue eyes, and he just stares with eyes that know he was wrong. I told him to go wash the wall, and that he could not participate anymore today. He listened but it was heart breaking to have to turn him away.
It is a mixture of the bright colors and the great smiles that made this project a success. Now it is off to paint a mural in the Hen House. Photo credits Erin Marie Keigher