Greatmore Studios: South Africa

During my 3 month residency in Cape Town, South Africa at Greatmore Studios I created a permanent interactive installation at the residency site, as well as a community project.

Walking everyday to and from the art center on Greatmore street, one of the roughest most drug stricken neighborhoods, I watched how a multitude of kids played soccer on a dirty abandoned patch of grass everyday. That same patch served as a public parking lot at times, car repair, or home for an older homeless gentleman. When I tried to take some photos of the kids playing. I was scolded by Sharifa, a mother to one of the kids. She thought I was a reporter. I explained to her that I was just an artist. Conversing more with her, I found out that they were so disappointed that their community was so dirty and ugly, and truly had no real place for the kids to play.

When I asked her, “well, why not paint it and make it beautiful” she just laughed.

Days later, I showed up with paint and started painting the wall myself. Organically kids and adults of all ages just came up, asked for a brush and started painting. Together we made it happen. When I was invited into Syan’s home, (one of the young girls that helped paint the mural) to wash some brushes I noticed their home had no pictures…

As an appreciation of everyone’s efforts I wanted to give them their portraits. After the mural was complete I thanked the kids and the community by photographing them in their homes and gave them 8″x10″ printouts. They were so thrilled to see themselves, that soon after I got the idea to project the entire process on a wall adjacent to the mural at night. Around 60 residents came out and had a great time; laughing eating watching themselves on a big screen. It was an incredibly moving experience for everyone. People from all different religions and cultural background came together to eat and laugh…We all felt safe and positive in one of the most violent areas of Capetown for one night.

Addressing the petty and violent nature of Capetown, I created a site specific interactive glass garden at the Greatmore parking lot. In time some glass will shed and people can come and place them back on as they please.