Wall\Therapy is an international mural festival that brings artists from all over the world (along with local painters) together for a week each year. Each festival has a theme, and artists are invited based on their relationship to the chosen theme. Murals are painted in public spaces throughout the city - as a way to help bring beauty and empowerment to the community. Over 100 murals have been painted in Rochester through this festival, and I am so incredibly proud to be a part of it.
My mural, entitled "Feeding the Machine", is inspired by the Syrian refugee crisis and specifically its impact on Syrian refugee children. The symbols woven into the mural all were chosen to help tell the story of the impact of war and oppression on Syrian children specifically, but the mural is meant to be open ended enough so as to speak to the viewer's own experience. There are many hidde symbols and art historical references that were meaningful to me in the planning of this piece. For instance, the eye from Pablo Picasso's "Guernica", which represented the man-made eternal sun, forever illuminating the tortures of war and forcing us to deal with our own culpability.
I was lucky to have an incredible team assisting me throughout the 9 day painting process. I was joined by students past and present along with a few friends who stopped by to lend a hand when I needed it. I could literally not have completed something on this scale, with this much detail, all brush painted on my own. Their opinions and style made the mural stronger and expanded my thought process.
You can visit the mural at 58 Pennsylvania Avenue, on the back side of Java's at the Rochester Public Market. The scale is certainly impactful. Thank you again to the entire Wall\Therapy team from organizers on down to hospitality staff - this is a massive undertaking and I am so proud to be a part of the family.
Special thanks to photographer Manar Bilal for inspiring this mural with his powerful photojournalism.
I was also honored to be a part of the first ever Wall\Therapy Arts & Activism Conference, on the Education and Empowerment panel. Watch the presentations and discussion below.
Photographs courtesy of Tomas Flint, Tom Keenan, Scott S. and Sean S.