The Meridian Center for Cultural Diplomacy (MCCD) is pleased to announce its artist selections for the upcoming Community Engagement through the Arts: Mural Arts Exchange with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. Each participant will travel to one of four countries to carry out collaborative murals with local artists representing underserved populations. These shared murals will be designed during each 3.5-week exchange program and will depict social themes that are relevant to each country.
Here are the selected artists and their projects:
Augustina Droze – Colombia
Serving as an instructor at the University at Buffalo (since 2012), Augustina Droze has developed and taught classes focusing on art in public spaces. The themes of these classes can be seen as an extension of a 2013, four-story tall mural which she created in Buffalo through funding provided by a National Endowment for the Arts grant. Collaborating with area school children and college students, Droze constructed a mural which serves as a welcome to the many international refugees that settle in the Buffalo area. Droze uses the mural, entitled “Global Voices”, to promote public awareness and community interaction. Droze has also worked extensively in India, where she has helped orphaned youth to create murals touting the importance of literacy.
Christine Kuhn – Democratic Republic of the Congo
Christine Kuhn, a Kentucky-based artist and activist, believes that the arts play an integral role in orchestrating community development and constructing social dialogue. Her project, entitled Tous de la Même Substance,will include classroom sessions, instruction in drawing and painting, and hands-on workshops that ultimately will produce the mural. Kuhn’s mural will include participants’ silhouettes, traditional African patterns and symbols, inspirational Congolese quotes, and personal sayings.
Michelle Angela Ortiz – Honduras
Former Cultural Envoy Michelle Angela Ortiz has promoted community engagement, artistic training, and historical awareness in many impoverished areas of the world. Ortiz has created similar murals in Fiji, Mexico, Spain, the United States, and Venezuela. In Honduras, she will work with communities marginalized by the devastating 1998 Hurricane Mitch, and design a mural that reflects their opinions about the storm, its aftermath, and current social circumstances in Honduras. Ortiz will also hold writing and communication workshops to promote discussion about topics that may be included in the mural.
Paul Santoleri – Nicaragua
Paul Santoleri, an artist based in Philadelphia, has collaboratively created murals as a Cultural Envoy in Paris, and has completed other mural projects in Brazil, Cuba, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, Finland and Mexico. Using collage and mosaic techniques, Santoleri integrates concrete, found objects, glass and terra cotta into his created mural paintings to establish a vibrant and transformative work. Santoleri is often involved with young people; in Paris he has worked with underprivileged, developmentally and physically disabled children; while in the Dominican Republic he collaborated with elementary school aged students.
Posted on behalf of Clayton Kindred, Summer Arts Intern