We’re gearing up for an important campaign to address the issue of street harassment in Guyana. You’ll want to keep an eye on our website for more details.
Today we were all smiles as we gathered at the seawall to finish stenciling at that location. We started earlier in the morning which really helped us from getting wilty. The crew stenciled vigorously and with a renewed precision which made the stencils look great.
As we reached the end of our painted white section, we found that we had some space left. A couple of our guys suggested that I paint the word WITNESS on that section, and then we could all initial it. It was great to have everyone leave his or her artist mark on the masterpiece they created together.
It was good that they were energized by the successful early part of the morning because we had more work to do. The next wall to stencil was the wall of School of the Nations.
We were given permission to paint one set of eyes so, we chose the location and went to work. The sun rose higher in in the sky, but our group now had this process down to a fine science. Fortunately, this wall was smoother and flatter that the seawall, we were able to complete it just in time for lunch.
Again we were tired, but our chicken and rice gave us the strength to go on to our final location, Help and Shelter. As we were painting at School of the Nations, a couple of our creative thinkers headed out to buy a can of spray paint to see if that may work better for the stencils. They tried it out, and determined that we should try it here at Help and Shelter. The spray paint worked well, but we found that one can does not quite cover an entire stencil, so our final work of art became a mixed media piece.
I think our stencil project was a success, and tomorrow will be my last day with the group. They now have the materials and the technique to continue covering Georgetown in stencils, reminding their community that what we see changes who we are.
After a good night’s rest, our crew was ready to stencil. We headed back out to the sea wall and unrolled the 12 foot stencils. It’s a good thing we all like each other, because it was going to take a lot of cooperation to make this happen. We needed half our group to hold the stencil in place while the other half painted.
We worked closely, side by side, to paint the first set of eyes on to the wall, and it was well worth the effort. When we peeled the stencil off the wall, it was pretty cool to see. All the hard work we did the day before paid off. The stencil looked great. We took a moment to look at it and admire it.
Now, it was up to us to continue paint stencils, alternating a stencil of eyes with a stencil of our tagline “What we see changes who we are” – JR on the sea wall until we reached the end of our white wall. Enthusiastically we went on. However, the sun shone extremely bright today and the heat was cooking us as we painted.
As our painters painted, some of our crew handed out fliers to folks diving by letting them know what WITNESS Project was about. Most people seemed happy to slow their cars and grab our little brochures.
A few hours went by, and as lunch time approached, we took a break to evaluate our work and noticed that as the sun beat down on us, our energy level and attention to detail began to wane a bit. We noticed that the most recent stencils have taken on a more abstract look, and that if we had continued without breaking, would eventually end up looking like a bizarre Rorschach ink blot test. Yay for lunch!
We hypothesized that now that we have eaten, perhaps the energy that the sun dried up, had once again returned. We decided that since I was the resident painter, I should repair the last eye stencil the best I could and the rest of the team would continue down the wall. Sadly, the sun had done it’s work. As the team finished the next set of eyes, they called to me saying, “You’ll probably have to fix this one too.”
Because projects such as these can have unexpected challenges, we planned for some flexibility. So, we decided that we will finish the stencils tomorrow. We will start earlier and we will succeed!
It all started with the amazing poster project inspired by artist JR three years ago. And every summer we put together a program with our young WITNESS Project participants that uses the arts to promote awareness for the problem of violence against women and children.
This year our project once again returns to the walls of Georgetown. Ever since our first poster project, our youth have been asking for a way to make their art more permanent. Giant stencils was the new medium of choice.
So today our stencil project began. We started this morning with an inspirational “Here’s our New Project” talk. You can imagine the looks of eager anticipation on the team’s faces as I described Phase One – Cleaning the sea wall.
“We’re going to clean a section of the sea wall today,” I said “by grabbing buckets of water from the ocean, and bringing it back to a group of us who will be scrubbing the sea wall with wire brushes.”
“Hooray!” they all cheered. Okay, maybe they didn’t cheer, but they were up for the challenge.
So off we went to clean and paint the sea wall white.
The morning went by quickly. We scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed. By lunch time we had scrubbed enough of the wall to fit about 5 stencils on the wall. We had originally planned for 20, so by a unanimous vote, we modified our goal to prepare enough wall to fit 10 stencils.
After lunch some of the group began to paint the wall while a few of the tenacious ones continued on with the scraping and scrubbing. By mid afternoon, we discovered that we had run out of white paint.
Should we stop or go on? That was the question. In a renewed passion for the task at hand, the group decided we should buy more paint and finish what we had set out to do. So our fearless team leaders set out to get more paint, and when they returned they found the group, a bit smaller than when we began, ready to complete the task. And complete it they did. By 5:00, we were finished and the weary, sweaty, salty crew headed home to rest up for tomorrow’s adventure.