Hospital Italiano in Buenos Aires, Argentina
"Mural de la Vida"
A vacation in Buenos Aires in February 2007 turned into a mural opportunity as I was connected by my Argentinian cousin to the Ronald McDonald House in the capital city. I worked for three days with children and families from the house to design and paint a 36 foot long mural in the Italian Hospital in B.A. Children and families brainstormed and drew pictures of their representation of "Vida" ("Life") before I arrived and then we worked together to combine everyone's ideas and imagery into a complete design. The main images that repeated in individual's drawings were the sun, trees, water, and flowers being representative of Life. The mural design incorporates those four elements as they spell out the word "Vida."
With only three days to paint, this was one of the quickest community mural projects I've coordinated, not to mention the fact that it was all in Spanish. This mural is a true example of art as a universal language.
As the days went on, hospital staff, doctors, administrators, and other families joined in the painting, all working together toward the common goal of brightening the hallway where patients and families wait. The Argentinian news covered the developing story and at one point I was approached with the following question: "Are you that famous American artist I saw on TV?" My response: "Why yes I am...."
Quotes from participants:
"La verdad no hay palabra, me hiciste sentir un momento muy agradable por que a pesar de mi nostlagia lo mal que me setnia por mis problema de la operacion de mi hija Katherine que es un transplante hepatico, fue una hermosa experiencia. La verdad es que al regresar a la casa mi animo cambio me senti mucho mejor, me dieron mas fuerza y esperanza para cegri luchando en la vida y por la vida de mi hija, solo vasta ver el mural lo que trasmite... ."
"The truth is that there are no words. I had a very pleasant feeling in spite of the fact that I am concerned about my daughter Catherine who just went through a liver transplant - it was a lovely experience. The truth of the matter is that when I returned home my mood had changed, I felt better. You infused strength and hope in me so I can go on in the struggle for the life of my daughter. Just with watching the mural process and what it expresses makes me feel good." —Fransisco, mural participant
"...Nosotros padecimos la espere sentados en medio de un largo y frio pasillo, con la angustia que todo padre esperimenta en situociones asi. Hoy contribuimos a cambiar la fachado de una de las paredes de ese pasillo, y consideromos que el mural no transmite :vida." De este modo deseomos que otros padres y familares que deon esperaren esas horas amargas, al ver el mural que con amor pintamos, tengan esperanza en la solucion de sus problemas y fe en que la "vida" triumfa."
"We have to tolerate this long and cold hallway sitting and experiencing the anguish that a parent feels in these situations. Today we contributed to change the face of one of these walls in this hallway. This mural gives out life. Other parents and family members that have to wait these bitter hours we feel the love that we put into the mural and they too will feel the hope and that there problems can have a solution and that life will prevail." —Agostini family, mural participants
"Senti que era muy hermo y lindo, me gusto pintar con los colores amarillo, verde, rojo, y naranja. Gracias por este experiencia."
"I felt is was very beautiful. I loved to paint yellows and greens and reds an orange. Thank you for this experience." —Ana, age 6, mural participant
"La idea de Tova de pintar el Mural de la Vida es genial, trasparente por que los colores reflejan cada momento que uno esta pasando. Muchas gracias por venir adarnos un momento de alegria!."
"The idea of Tova to paint the mural of Life was genius. Honest and clear because every color reflects the moments that we live. Thank you for coming and giving us a moment of joy." —Carolina's family, mural participants