The World Painting Tour – Chapter 10: Emerging From the Trenches of the Brick

Over ten-thousand women are trafficked from Nepal into India every year. It is necessary for this epidemic to be addressed; however, how does one depict such a heavy topic through symbolism while simultaneously painting hope and love? “The Wall of Hope” is a campaign led by Bev Hoffman that transforms deteriorating walls around Nepal with colors of love, destiny lines of freedom written into the hand prints of students and the dreams of people freed from trafficking. This week the World Painting Tour joins forces with the Wall of Hope to Paint both the European Union Consulate and the Australian Embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal. On the first day of the project we met with a representetive of the EU and the Australian Embassador, both for which were incredibly happy to support an important cause and invite us to paint murals. I am honored to lead an inspiring team of colleagues, new and old friends devoted towards freedom art, and utilize the power of creativity to tell a story… a liberating story of empowerment, courage and alchemy in the face of severe adversity.

The European Union Consulate wall has seen better days; the cement between bricks crumbled upon touch and the surface is textures like the craters in the moon. We were more than tempted to buy huge sheets of plywood, cut out the positive space and attach it to the wall like we did in the Za’atari Syrian Refugee Camp; however, upon meditation we decided to scrape the wall for ten hours and apply two heavy coats of primer on the positive space before painting with the intention of reminding the people that you do not need a bunch of money to enhance the quality of life through color… We can transform a hopeless wall, a discouraged life, with hard work, intention and some color. Over seventy local boys and girls from all walks of Nepali life, including young women with confidential stories of sexual and physical abuse, came to paint their intentions onto the wall with the team, most for which had never touched a paintbrush to wall. We held an art workshop with each group to awaken the imagination before approaching the hundred and ten foot long mural. One exorcise included drawing their hand and then telling a story through imagery inside the hand. The youth were brilliant. They depicted global warming, equality for all, respect, the oneness of Nepal and the world and so forth. The next generation of Nepal painted their smiles all over this wall!

Park Village, a luxury resort, offered our team an apartment and breakfast for the length of our project. It is a beautiful feeling to work late into the night each day and return to an oasis amidst a congested city where the majority of the population wears masks to reduce the inhalation of the dust and pollution in the air. We travel by minibus to the mural site in the mornings, crammed into a fourteen seater carrying thirty-five people. There is no such thing as personal space in these vehicles where strangers hold the babies for standing parents and random body parts are contorted in a real life game of twister in a little box with wheels. The hailer rides with his head out the window whistling and he pounds on the sliding door to indicate to the driver to stop or drive on. We make sure to have perfect change each ride or we will be overcharged like a virus taking more than we can spare. The European Union Consulate guards, greet us every morning and became more and more friendly throughout the week as they let us in and out of the armed gate for twelve hours a day… painting in and out of the tranches of the brick… diving into the trenches of humanity and emerging with paintbrush bristles and strokes bridging gaps and holes.

After an epic collaboration of artists and Nepali youth, transformation multiple challenges into opportunity and new discoveries, we completed this incredible composition. The woman on the right is a sex trafficked slave who is reaching her hand out for help. The chains are pierced and broken by the bird of freedom. The right eye reflects the past and the cleansing tear in her healing journey. The left eye has rediscovered her childlike innocence, cradled by the lotus flower. The bricks are broken and the Thangka, dream like world around the eye, painted by youth and professionals, depicts the untainted imagination of the inner-child with sacred nature and little monkey holding up a peace sign. The clouded leopard spirt animal is projected from the courageous energy of the realistic woman on the left. There are only ten thousand of these special creatures left on the planet and they represent resilience, new life and the courage to create a new reality… the woman emerges from the darkness and find power through her choice of perspective. The European Union, the participants and the artists are thrilled with the outcome and happy to share the power of creativity, addressing intense social issues, while inspiring healing and dreams. Countless pedestrians stopped offering more walls to be painted for good causes and every day more and more people stopped to understand the story written into the wall and take “selfies”. Traffic jams were even caused by the mural and the guards needed to come out and move people along. The EU representetive has worked there for nine years and said that nothing like this had ever happened and that they are more than thrilled with the outcome.

Huge admiration and respect to all the Nepali participants who painted with us. We want to thank the Wall of Hope, Bev Hoffman and Rachiv Dangol for your dedication to the woman’s rights and for opening the doors for my team and I to use our form of intelligence to dive into an intercultural dialogue and fulfill our dreams here in Nepal. I want to extend my gratitude to my awesome team, Lívia Riboldi, Chris Marcinkowskiand Bethany M Richards. Also, thank you Park Village and the European Union Consulate of Kathmandu. PHOTOS taken by Chris Marcinkowski and Lívia Riboldi – Mural directed by Benjamin Swatez