In mid September I commenced an Artist in Residence project with the Mariposa DR Foundation. I lived, breathed and slept mural art for 5 weeks in Cabarete, Dominican Republic. Despite body aches and feeling as though my heal bones were pressing through my sneakers, I gained so much energy and lessons from the Mariposa Foundation girls and staff. Additionally the beach front view 10 seconds from my stay was quite the plus.
The Mariposa DR Foundation implements programs and projects for Dominican and Haitian girls in need in the North Coast of the Dominican Republic. The organization successfully executes diverse programs that provide education (each girl receives a full scholarship to private school), homework help, dance, swimming, arts and crafts and the list goes on. I was hired as an artist to teach mural making and create a participatory mural that provides “girl teaching girl” skill building. Learn more about the organization here.
Here is what I learned:
- Mural making can empower young girls to do more and think deeply about their value
- When girls are provided with the tools and are told they have control they take on projects as their own
- Creating the mural provided an opportunity for us to interact with the community
- Being a muralist in a small town opens opportunities to learn a new way of life
- Small beach communities are vulnerable to foreign influence and yet when these communities have resources for their own advancement can become owners of decision making
- Girls are the most powerful agent for change.
We developed the design after asking what makes them feel empowered, owners of their future and valued. Additionally I asked them to create the images and elements that allow them to transform from a caterpillar to a flourishing butterfly. The final image tells their story and brings light to a world that nourishes and elevates them.
Each portrait is of current and graduating Mariposa girls and they are so proud of the work we completed, so am I.