Welcome To My House – Music/Art Video: Luc & the Lovingtons + Voices of the Children
Time and time again the real art happens in the now! In Za’atari Refugee Camp we were reminded that every moment there is a new choice, and in that choice, and if we listen, the brilliance of each moment burns bright. Nothing was guaranteed on our journey into the Middle East to film the first leg of the “Welcome to my House” music video with Luc and the Lovingtons, Voices of the Children and a phenomenal team of international creatives with opens arms. Obstacles and “set backs” were transformed into opportunities left and right; more than we could have imagined manifested as we followed the flow of creativity and the soul’s calling to express it.
Initially, quite frankly, I wasn’t quite sure how I would contribute to this ‘music’ video project, assuming that a previous mural that I had already painted with Syrian youth could be used. It took one phone call and my purpose on this project opened up in ways I had not imagined. It was decided that a new mural inside the refugee camp itself should be painted on a Syrian home, if we could find a willing family… Within the first hour in Za’atari, thanks to the help of our dear friend, Mohamad Abu Farha, both paint and a house was secured. An unexpected mural was underway on the corrugated, rusty metal home with doors wide opened. Little did I know that this warm and courageous Syrian family would work their way into my heart more and more everyday!
While last project I was blessed to paint and share art therapy with over one hundred refugee youth in the camp, this journey offered a little more intimate setting – one on one connections with grandparents, their children and grandchildren. Everyday I would paint with them, drink Turkish coffee and sit on the floor sharing a meal with our fingers from a huge communal plate. I drew out a preliminary sketch of their youngest grand-baby, an adorable little girl with big, bright eyes exploring the world anew after each blink. I showed it to the grandfather and he replied, “viry gud, have 3.” Implying that he wanted all three grand kids painted. As this seemed like a lovely idea, I was still not sure how I would even paint one on the corrugation, not to mention the many bumps, dents, and overlapping metal… And then the light bulb turned on. With limited time and countless unexpected detours out of our control, I decided to paint the positive space onto wood cutouts, allowing more detail and more time with the option to paint them at home.
We tracked down an Egyptian master carpenter who was missing the tips of all five fingers on his right hand. I drew the huge outlines of three children, a falcon, a donkey, 3 chickens and a chic standing on an egg upon the family’s request and the carpenter cut them out late into the night as I played flute and drew temporary tattoos on his kids. With no translator, our thumbs and facial muscles were put to work trying to communicate. It was great fun! One day while sitting with the Syrian grandmother in Za’atari, I learned through hand expressions and tears, that one of her sons was killed in the Syrian war and that she felt like I was now her son. Only one picture of him survived of her son, a photocopy from his identification card. I borrowed it and drew him into my journal beside the sketch of the mural.
After an all-nighter painting at our home in Amman, we left towards the camp at 4 am, ducking under the huge painting that took over the entire van, minus the driver and passenger seat. It was hilarious and just one small example of how strongly our entire team felt about doing the very best job we could. We bolted the individual wood paintings to the metal wall to create the heartfelt composition full of the colors of love, reflecting the love felt on the inside of their home, now projected for all to see and feel through the visual arts as well. They were thrilled and said that they never imagined it being like this. Up at the window I showed the grandmother the drawing of her fallen son. Tears filled her eyes and we hugged. She picked up her grandson, who lost his father, and he said “PAPA!” then kissed the image of his father in my book. My eyes were glossy with emotion and chills of love moved through my body like the northern lights dance through the sky. The bond created between the grandparents, siblings, grand kids, song, art, team and my soul will forever live on! Thank you family for choosing to not be be satisfied as “victims” and for the courage to start a new life, embodying the dream of peace, love and a welcoming home! Thank you to everyone who made this possible! There are many more stories to come from our team sharing the depth of our unified experience through many different angles. Stay tuned!