The Resilient Murals initiative
THE COLOURFUL MURALS THAT PROMOTE RESILIENCE AND SOLIDARITY IN GUATEMALA
“While I was working on the mural, passers-by would stop and look curiously and compliment me. I am grateful to WeWorld-GVC for giving me the confidence and the opportunity to demonstrate what I am capable of. I work as a house painter, but what I really like doing and I feel good at is drawing. I am happy for having painted this mural on the wall of the community school where I live, because I know that I have contributed to making it more beautiful.”
Jhonatan is one of the many young local artists and volunteers involved in the Resilient Murals initiative, part of the REACT project funded by the #EUAidVolunteers initiative. Between July and August 2020, 8 murals were created in Guatemala, to promote the values of resilience and solidarity in order to face and overcome the current health and socio-economic crisis that has hit Guatemala hard.
We started a collaboration with four organizations active in the country (Entremundos, Caras Alegres, TECHO Guatemala and Centro de Voluntariado Guatemalteco), already involved in an awareness campaign on Covid-19 preventive measures, and with experience on volunteering issues and active citizenship. The initial idea was to launch positive messages for the post-pandemic, prompting reflections on the values that play a key role in getting out of a crisis, such as human relations, mutual aid and resilience. Through colors and images, the participants of the initiative were able to express their feelings about the current situation and their hopes for the future. Based on these ideas, each organization has developed themes and interpretations consistent with the reality of the communities where they work.
The murals contain symbols and references to the multifaceted Guatemalan identity: the resilience of the Mayan people and the centrality of corn in national foods and culture are celebrated; flying birds and wild animals remind people of the lush nature of the country and the desire for freedom, while the sun, sky, rivers and cultivated fields represent the elements of fire, air, water and earth that are at the basis of Mayan cosmology.
There are also references to very topical issues: a fist grabbing a bunch of carrots to defend food sovereignty; a boy jumping rope and a girl playing soccer to tackle gender stereotypes; a hand coming out of a screen to touch another, symbolizing the role of technology in shortening distances during the pandemic.
The murals were painted in visible places where people of different ages and nationalities regularly go, as some of the organizations’ facilities are frequented by international volunteers. Three murals were created on the walls of sports fields in primary schools, so that even boys and girls can appreciate them once they are back in class.
The initiative was an opportunity to promote the artistic work of young painters and mural artists, who are dedicated to this work by profession or by passion. In a time of economic difficulty like the one the country is experiencing, it is important to support the art sector, one of the most affected by the reduction in job opportunities and the lack of subsidies.
Some volunteers from the network of Young Artists for Social Justice (JAxJS) also participated in the creation of the murals, a movement that uses art in all its forms to raise awareness of social issues.
The Resilient Murals initiative has achieved the goal of promoting the values of resilience and solidarity through an artistic expression such as murals which, we hope, will be able to attract the attention of passers-by and promote reflections. This experience was enriched by the dialogue between different entities – organizations, artists, volunteers – who share the commitment to improve the condition of the communities where they live and work.