An email popped up in the Barefoot Artist’s inbox, asking for guidance on how to cultivate international community involvement in a mural project that will tackle two, blank New York garages (the canvas).
What shall we paint?
What subjects are of interest to the community?
How do I gather the artists?’
What images can I propose or how to solicit stories from them to be painted?
Lily Yeh, founder of the Barefoot Artists Organization responded with “When I am in that situation not knowing what to design, I usually go to the people and ask them what would they like to see on the wall. I think you can start with a design workshop, prepare art materials and ask the participants what they would like to see on the wall. Pin up their works and let them discuss and come up with ideas. Once they agree on something, maybe they can help you design the wall. You can have artists on hand to help and guide. This should be a fun and participatory process that will keep people interested and engaged.”
This situation is similar a phase of the Rwanda Healing Project. The residents in Rugerero Twa village wanted help from Barefoot Artists to build an art house to exhibit their pottery. With no ideas on what to design for the village, a workshop was set up where men, women, and children in separate groups created design reflecting their aspirations. It turned out that what they desired was not just an art house but an art complex that included a high firing communal kiln, roofed workshop space, storage, exhibition gallery, toilets, and a shower. That was the beginning of how Rugerero Pottery compound came into being.