We’re excited to announce our next round of mural artists who will participate in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs‘ (ECA) Community Engagement through the Mural Arts program with local artists, youth, and communities in Cuba, India, Brazil, and Turkey.
Cuba – January 24-February 17
This first name will sound familiar, and for good reason. Michelle Angela Ortiz participated in our first round of exchanges last year, when she worked with two neighborhoods in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. As a Cultural Envoy through United States embassies, Michelle has promoted community engagement, technical artistic training, and historical awareness for some of the most impoverished and remote locations on earth. Michelle has previously created murals in Argentina, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Fiji, Mexico (Juarez and Chihuahua City), Spain, and Venezuela, all centered on the ideas of community involvement and the ability of open, non-judgmental, artistically represented social dialogue. Michelle shared two blogs about her exchange last spring, as well as this video documenting her experience. In Cuba, Michelle will be working with local artists from groups Obsesión and Casa de Artistas y Creadores in Central Havana to paint a large, permanent public mural in the Parque Antonio Maceo. We’re excited to see what they create together.
India – January 30-February 25
Joel Bergner is a visual artist and educator with a specialization in community mural projects. Over the past seven years, he has conducted public arts-based social initiatives across the United States and internationally. His work focuses on marginalized populations such as indigenous groups, refugees, the incarcerated, the disabled, domestic violence survivors, and youth from violent and impoverished communities. With extensive international experience, including in Brazil, Cape Verde, Cuba, El Salvador, Germany, Jordan, Kenya, Mexico, Mozambique, and South Africa, Bergner has partnered with local institutions to facilitate educational and creative workshops with a focus on social justice issues that are important to the local population. Bergner has a background in counseling and case management, and spent years working in treatment centers for disturbed teenagers and foster youth. His stunning artwork will certainly make in impact in Kolkata, Siliguri, and Mumbai, where his project will be displayed at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival.
Brazil – March 13-April 8
Dave Loewenstein is a muralist, writer, and printmaker who, for more than twenty years, has focused on collaborative storytelling, civic participation, and the celebration of neighborhood vitality through his community-based public projects. His projects intentionally bring together people who have different abilities, backgrounds, and stories to tell, creating an environment where the friction of developing relationships leads to the emergence of exciting new ideas and visual forms. Dave is currently working with incarcerated youth and officers at the juvenile detention center in Shawnee County, Kansas, on a mural project that will explore themes of conflict resolution and personal integrity. In Brazil, Dave will create large murals with local artists, including Karen Valentim and Parede Viva, a public school, and youth groups in Vitória and São Paulo. He will also work on a smaller project in Rio for the upcoming summer Olympics.
Turkey – May 2-May 25
An artist, educator, and community builder based in New Orleans, Louisiana, Laurel True has been creating public, architectural, and community-based mosaics for almost 25 years. She is the Founding Director of The Global Mosaic Project, an organization which creates community mosaic projects and provides art education and entrepreneurial training to underserved communities. In addition, Laurel also runs her own company, True Mosaics Studio, which creates commissioned mosaic projects for public spaces like parks, plazas, and hospitals, and in commercial and residential settings. Laurel has created and facilitated over 100 community-based projects across the United States, Africa, Europe, Latin America, and Haiti, and has fostered education in the mosaic arts for over 20 years through workshops, public speaking, classes, and on-the-street training. She is also co-founder of the Institute of Mosaic Art, the first mosaic education and resource center in the United States. Laurel will work with youth – in particular girls – in Adana, Ankara, and Istanbul, where there is a long history of mosaic art.
Be sure to follow Meridian on social media and here on The Lead for updates on all of these mural arts exchanges!