Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Idea...

In 2009 and 2010, I traveled to Juarez and Chihuahua City, Mexico to conduct artist residencies focused on recovery of spaces, social change and building community leaders. The residencies were supported by the United States Embassy and the activities were held in the heart of the communities in each city.

During my time there, I trained local artists in intensive mural techniques as well as combining their skills in street/ graffiti art. The residencies resulted in the creation of two murals- 17"x180' mural in Juarez and 20'x210' mural in Chihuahua City. Each mural conveyed the messages from the community that continues to struggle with drug wars, violence and lack of economic and educational resources. 

It is in places like Juarez and Chihuahua City- places that are at high risk- that I meet the most dedicated and committed artists that want to make a difference. It is in these places that I met David Flores, Juan Carlos Reyes, Antonio Leal and Oscar Gallegos, four artists that struggle but still create art because they have something to say as individuals and as community leaders. In the midst of struggle, they are the catalysts for change in their communities, they are the ones that will respond when others are afraid to, and they are the ones that encourage others to speak up too.

The idea of the "Aqui y Alla" Project emerged from these various interactions with the community and the projects I was leading both in Philadelphia and Mexico. The mural is a testimony to the process but the collaboration with the artists and community members is profound. Sustainability and impact are important in my work as an artist and community arts educator. Having the four artists in Philadelphia is another step in supporting them to create initiatives that will impact their communities back home in Mexico.

This project focuses on the collaboration with the artists from Mexico and immigrant teens from South Philadelphia. Through this project, I want to provide the youth (here and there) the opportunity to create awareness of the social conditions that exist in their communities. I want them to discover that they are not alone and that others also suffer from the impact of immigration and violence due to lack of resources and racial/ ethnic intolerance. 

The goal of the "Aqui y Alla" project is to empower the youth through this exchange and creative process so they can find a common bond and have their voices resonate in the artwork we create together.

Michelle Angela Ortiz

No comments:

Post a Comment