Shaping Lives through Visual Arts
“I saw the angel imprisoned in marble and I chiseled it until I let him free!”
Visual arts usually promotes arts both as a field of historical research of inter-cultural relations, within the immediate cultural ecosystem of a specific place and in the rest of the world, and a field of investigation of contemporary practices and a point of interaction with the demands of post-modern cultures.
My name is Alejadro Manuel. I’m a registered nurse and I work for a local NGO in my country. Being a medic and working for an organization that seeks to promote better health standards for the local population, I’ve been involved in various initiatives that seek to achieve the objectives of the organization. For instance, you can try the dash diet, I loved it, it made me healthy. There have been numerous contributions that various members of our staff have come up with in sensitizing the community – such contributions are usually encouraged by the organization – and I’ve always been too active in such initiatives.
Creating Murals and Drawing Graffiti to Create Awareness of HIV/AIDS
One of my most nostalgic fetes was creating murals and drawing graffiti to sensitize the locals about the menace of HIV and how to avoid contracting the disease. This was a project that I worked on between 1994 and 1995.
The project came at a time when the prevalence of HIV was high among the locals and there was need to strongly educate the public on better ways to avoid contracting the disease, reduce stigmatization of those living with the disease as well as encourage those with the disease not to despair but get enrolled to receive free anti-retro-viral drugs that the government and other organizations were providing.
Personally, I’m not an artist and I’m very poor at sketching. However, when I came up with the idea I was sure that it would have a positive impact in the society. I submitted my proposal to the NGO’s board and within three weeks it was approved. In the proposal, I has outlined on the need to drawing in public places such as schools and hospitals exposing the risks of unprotected sex and the best practices of safe sex.
After the project was approved and funding disbursed, I went on to recruit artists and painters who would work on the task across various towns for the next 6 months. It wasn’t an easier task finding good artists given that the funds were limited and I couldn’t call for expressions of qualified groups to submit tenders for the work and thus I had t individually source for the artists.
This task alone took me about a month to be certain that I had an excellent pool of artists. For the next few months, we embarked on the sensitization process. Our graffiti tried to express the need of people to go for testing as well as address other areas touching the menace of HIV.
Painting and Murals provided Better Awareness on Safe Sex Practices
However, after about 7 months, an audit carried out by the NGO revealed that our graffiti project wasn’t as effective as I had projected it to be. Not many people were identifying with the graffiti; hence the message didn’t sink as much as I had anticipated.
Therefore when I was presenting my report to the board, I was taken to task by the members who felt that my program needed to be discontinued and the remaining funds be directed to another project. I didn’t feel comfortable with that decision. Therefore I had to fight a battle to ensure that my program stayed in place. However, seeing the possibility of losing the battle, I knew that I had to come up with a more effective means of crating awareness.
I decided to deliberate with my team of graffiti painters and that’s when they also shared their concerns that creating murals and painting would have been more effective than graffiti. Before the deadline of the grace period given by the board to terminate the project, I came up with another proposal whereby I suggested that instead of scrapping the program, I make changes to it.
I had carried out a research which was attached to the proposal and it outlined how murals and painting were different from graffiti and thus a high likelihood of being more objective than the later. The board received the proposal and took about 6 weeks to make a decision whereby they approved it.
For the next year or so, we concentrated on creating painting and mural in public places. The project and been designed for 3 months in some selected towns, but within the first 8 weeks it had proved to be quiet successful and thus the board decided to extend it so that we could cover other towns too.