Invited by the US Consulate General, Mumbai, American mural artist and educator Joel Bergner, local artist Krishna Sharma, and local students, including some volunteers from Safecity worked together to create a stunning mural with a women’s empowerment theme for the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival in Mumbai in the first week of February, 2016. A volunteer from Safecity who was part of this art project writes about her experience.
Meritta Anju Joseph is a student at Sophia College for Women who volunteered with Safecity for the Wall Mural project at KGAF held in collaboration with the US Consulate.
Volunteer Experience: Community Art Project on Women’s Safety and Empowerment
The mural painting workshop conducted by the US Consulate General, Mumbai, as part of their Community Art Project on Women’s Safety and Empowerment was one of the most enriching experiences I have ever been part of as a Safecity Volunteer. The session was conducted by New York artist, Joel Bergner who uses art as a medium for social change. Joel was accompanied by his wife, C.J. who was also with us for the week.
The workshop held on 30th January, Saturday with a bonding session. The venue for the same was Sitara Studio in Lower Parel. The bonding was followed by a small discussion on the problems we faced as women in the city. These points were noted down and then incorporated in the mural. All of us were given a few minutes to draw something related to gender inequality and then stick it on the wall. We analysed all the drawings at the end and then formulated a rough sketch for our mural. This is when the magic began, the process of creating something wonderful and we were all equally immersed in it. We parted after getting a faint idea of how to fill the canvas. We had decided to show the evolution from struggle to freedom for women.
Check out the short video posted by the US Consulate on Facebook created during the making of the mural here.
The painting sessions started from 1st Feb and Joel had drawn the basic sketch. We learnt a lot from mixing paints to brush strokes and so on. Before I realised, I had fallen in love with painting and put my soul into every bit of the mural. Amidst all the painting, the best part of the week was whenever we took breaks and conversed with Joel and C.J. and got a deeper understanding of each other’s culture and lifestyle.
Each day, we would just wait for our classes to get over and then race over to Studio to pick up our brushes again. The last day of painting was on 4th Feb and we stood proudly and admired our work. We had never even imagined that it would capture the gender inequality issues in India so perfectly. Joel spray painted and added the final touches to the mural. The entire workshop was organized very well. Refreshments were available and the staff was very warm and hospitable.
The mural was installed at Kalaghoda Arts Festival on 5th Feb and subsequently unveiled on Saturday, 6th Feb. We all were extremely proud of the mural but were also sad that this beautiful chapter of our lives has come to an end. Joel and C.J. spoke a few words on their experience and this left everyone in tears.
This experience has been one that I will definitely cherish all my life and most importantly I have been fortunate to befriend two of the most amazing people – Joel and C.J.
Check this video put together by the US Consulate once the Mural was finished, inviting followers to go see the art work at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival.