Following the spring 2020 trip to Costa Rica, energy was high, anticipation of the completed mural was brimming, and plans were set for a return to Costa Rica in June to FINISH the mural!!!
Enter COVID-19...and our production came to a screeching halt!
As Covid-19 swept the globe, so did the reality that this project was not to be completed any time soon. Initially there was anger, discouragement, a little panic, but mostly disappointment. I was disappointed that this mural would not be completed as originally planned. My main concern was the children and community we were seeking to engage and gift the mural to. You see, the community in which La Escuela Pacifica Fernandez is located is a Hatillo district, known for its lack of resources, lack of government support, and lack of hope. I did not want to abandon the project, and I did not want to abandon these children, this school, these families, and their community.
While I continually held out hope and reassured our Costa Rica partners that we were still committed to the mural, I have to admit I was not always so sure. With the end of the pandemic nowhere in sight, I really didn't know how this was going to work out.
Let's fast forward to fall of 2021...
Costa Rica opened its doors back up to travel from Pennsylvania (Yes, their entry was even state specific!). Anju Jolly and I planned a trip in August of 2021 to visit the mural. We wanted to make a trip for several reasons.
The trip was AMAZING! While there were plenty of Covid-19 restrictions still in place, we were able to successfully complete our trip, add a panel to the left side of the mural, and reassure the community that we would finish the mural!!
To say there was renewed excitement and energy must be the understatement of the year! When our feet touched back down on home soil, we set to work organizing for the completing of this project, knowing that we could see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.
Anju went to work completing her butterflies, while I set out to complete the painting.
The tricky part of this is that Murals Talk is about an exchange among children, and I was struggling mostly with the fact that I could not get into school in the US to work with kids on the mural. I managed to work with just 2 additional schools in the US before recognizing that the value in completing this work was in the children in Costa Rica and the benefits of me putting paint to canvas were obvious. So, I set out to complete the remainder of the mural mostly on my own at home.
The March trip was full of excitement. A blog post of our experiences is forthcoming, but here are a few pics for now!
First, I want to thank you all for visiting our page and supporting our work! We have been doing mural exchanges for many years now, and we are finally taking the next step towards becoming a non-profit!
Murals talk is proud to partner with the Central PA Community Foundation in order to further advance our mission and provide more opportunities for youth throughout Central Pennsylvania to use their creativity to connect to their peers both locally and abroad!
This year we are taking on our largest project ever! The team will be installing an 850 sqft. mural in San Jose, Costa Rica! The mural was designed by elementary school children from several schools in the San Jose valley and will be executed by children (and some adults) throughout Central Pa. Once completed the mural will be taken to, and installed in, its permanent location at La Escuela Pacifica Fernandez in an impoverished region of San Jose.
In August, 2019, Artists Pam and Anju traveled to Costa Rica to inspect potential mural sites throughout the San Jose Valley. After carefully weighing all the factors, they settled on a wall that acts as a border wall to a large open field area used both by the school for physical education each day, but also by the entirety of the community every day. Following a days work, many families convene at the fields for soccer practice, socializing, playing games, and picnic style dinners. The location of the mural will have the strongest impact as it is used daily by all members of the surrounding community!
Since our return, we have been working towards the completion of the mural and the organization of 2 return trips to Costa Rica.
The mural is being produced on a mural cloth which is a Primed Poly-tab material commonly used in this application. The mural cloth we use is purchased from Mural Provisions in Philadelphia, Pa and comes pre-primed which is incredible convenient!
The mural made its public debut at the State Creative Placemaking Summit as a Pop-up Art Experience. Attendees were able to begin working on the underpainting of the mural before and during breaks in presentations. The mural has also been worked on at the Juniata Gap Elementary School in Altoona, PA where 6th grade students participated in completing the underpainting on the first panel. When we work in schools, we do more than just paint with the students. These classroom sessions include informative discussion about the children we are helping, their communities, culture, daily life struggles, similarities to us, differences from us, etc... The process is intended to spark dialogue for these young people and help them gain some healthy perspective into their own life circumstances. The students end each classroom session by participating in the painting of the mural panel.
The butterflies are made using a lightweight, Styrofoam based, backing (wedi board). The tiles are affixed to the board and grouted in the standard fashion. The glass tiles pieces have been donated by a number of people and artists in support of this project, and we are so grateful for their contributions!
Once the butterflies are completed they will be packed in our luggage and transported to Costa Rica! We plan to also install the first 2-3 butterflies in March as well.
As you can see there are a lot of things happening. Many more schools will be visited, a few public participation days will be coming in March, April and May; and we invite anyone to join in the fun as we look to inspire these young people through art! If you are interested in supporting our efforts, we are still in need of donations. None of our artists take any of the proceeds from donations. 100% of your contribution goes directly into the project as we volunteer all of our time! Check our DONATE page to see how you can help us make a difference!