Non-profit Ciudad Alternativa “Alternative City” contracted me to implement educational murals in four Dominican public schools. The HABISO project, Healthy and Sustainable Habitat Project was in collaboration with the European Union, implemented by Ciudad Alternativa. The organization is an institutional leader in promoting multidimensional transformation of the city, striving to provide a quality of life to Dominican Republic inhabitants. As a community development practitioner and muralist I found that Ciudad Alternativa served as an excellent collaborator to implement my mural art methodologies and support participatory processes. First, I facilitated an art-based workshop in which 4 school groups (a total of 60 students) developed written and visual visions of a healthy environment (for their school, communities, and eco-system). Next, I worked diligently to use their written and visual visions and designed 2 murals for each school which resulted in 8 mural images. Following the designs, I presented the work to the students and administration for approval. I spent 5 days or 1 week in each school to complete 2 mural images. With the help of the student participants we were able to complete each mural goal and the results are detailed below.
The work was extremely rewarding because I had the opportunity to further my methods and create an educational environment around ways to create a quality of life and improve the environment in which the students live. It was a fascinating opportunity to provide a community building experience that strived to place the tools in the students hands, create ownership and interact with their surroundings. I found three things very striking:
- The ability to use participatory mural art as a tool to create a conversation, and
- mural art provides tools for students to communicate their vision, thus their voice, to a greater audience and feel valued,
- the mural making process facilitates critical thinking around educational themes and can be use to apply skills such as math, physics, design, etc.
Please review photos of the workshop, drawings and visions, painting and final mural.
Workshop: April 11, 2014
Each mural project was tailored to the students drawings and visions within each school. The elements that made the project successful were the collaborative relationship amongst Ciudad Alternativa, each school and myself. We were able to coordinate schedules for students to participate andnot miss substantial amounts of class time. Additionally, the students work ethic was amazing and I was able to work with enthusiastic students who worked with me under the hot sun. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to get to know them, share meals with them, learn about their daily lives, challenges, neighborhoods, dreams and more importantly see how much they thrive when given the tools to express who they are and their visions. Please view the pictures below.
Escuela Domingo Savio Los Guandules, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic – 10 participants –
Vision: Our vision is that all the members of our school collaborate to maintain a clean school and community.
Observations: The Domingo Savio school students’ drawings were incorporated directly into the mural which was a special treat because it allowed them to transfer their own drawings in the design I created. I noticed they were extremely proud of having their own work visible. Additionally, their was several cement bags and metal rods around each mural site. The last day of mural painting the students ran to me in the morning and shared their desire to clean the space around the mural. So they worked hard to remove the metal beams and cement bags.This experience confirmed the power of participatory community building and how mural art can ignite ideas to improve one’s environment.
IPOPSA, Ensanche Espaillat, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic – 18 participants –
Vision: Our vision for our school is to reduce noise pollution, throw trash in the trash can and care for our green areas.
We inaugurate the mural.
Virgin de la Altagracia, Los Minas, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic – 12 participants
Vision: Our vision is to create a favorable environment, maintain environmental cleanliness and a resilient attitude.
Santo Tomas de Aquino, Los Tres Brazos, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic – 7 participants –
Vision: Our vision is to throw trash in the waste bins to keep our school clean. We take care of our environment by throwing trash in the waste bin to have a better quality of life and environment.