Webster’s dictionary defines vision as follows:
vi·sion noun ˈvi-zhən
: the ability to see : sight or eyesight
: something that you imagine : a picture that you see in your mind
: something that you see or dream especially as part of a religious or supernatural experience
As I reflect upon completing the mural and the School Beautification project, one word continues to resonate with me, vision. I needed the ability to picture the project, make clear objectives, plan logistics and raise funds to make it real. A vision, I find, is the most important element one should have when taking steps to reach a goal, and in my case fulfill a dream career. I remember having a focused vision as to how this project would go, what I would accomplish and how I would feel. It was my vision to beautify the school and engage students in art that helped me arrive here today, one project closer to use my talents to facilitate art-based community development. It’s true what they say, if you can see it, you can achieve it.
Last week, February 5 and 7, I wrapped up the project and presented our accomplishments to the students and the school. They were so proud and excited. We experienced some delays due to scheduling conflicts and rain. Additionally, I found that I did not accurately account for the wall’s absorbent surface which delayed the project 3 weeks. We were planning to finish the project December 16 and finished January 31.
The school’s walls are improved and are beautiful. Before the walls were drab, grey and well, sad. Now the school has more color and presents a more vibrant environment in which the students can dwell and play. The students have provided me with such positive feedback. I have received statements expressing their gratitude, explaining their desires to be artist and learn how to paint. Many students have shared how the school is more enjoyable. The director has stated that she notices the more participative students are a little more disciplined and that one student in particular, is more studious and has taken more of an interest in his academics after being involved in the project. We used to tell him that he couldn’t help us paint if he didn’t keep his grades up. I have recorded video of the student’s responses and their reaction to the project. I know that we have done more than beautify a school. We have:
- Inspired the students to draw and take art classes
- Facilitated a sense of ownership and empowerment in the school
- Brightened the student’s lives at school each day
- Showed the school they are deserving and valuable
- Shared our passion and opened the students’ eyes to a new profession
My hope is to continue measuring the results of such projects so that I can articulate the true impact and reach. As I explore opportunities with organizations and schools here, it has become more apparent the need to articulate the impact such projects have in terms that interested parties can understand. It is often difficult to explain that the methodologies I use to paint murals is not about the art only yet using art as a tool to communicate with youth and communities and give them the opportunity to tell their audience who they are, what they need and form a sense of value around those things.
Schedule extra time for unforeseen schedule delays. This is just a given.
Set aside work days for multiple responsibilities: Often times it was hard to juggle being a mural artist, project leader, camera woman, etc. Therefore, next time I feel it is wise to set aside 1 day once or twice a week to manage my other roles and responsibilities.
Strive for quality: It was frustrating to have project delays and readjust my schedule and continue working more time than I agreed to at the school. At times I was worried I would be an interruption for the school staff. However, once I explained the desire to produce a quality mural for the students the school and collaborators were extremely cooperative. I postponed projects, denied job offers, etc to ensure that the project was completed and done well. Now that it is I am proud and feel satisfied and know that my project is considered a quality one and that I will gain a reputation for being dedicated and dependable.
Check out the photos and final product!
Before and After