Nature cries out that we mustn’t destroy her and the FUNDAHMER team, Aroma Natural, has heard her cries. Everything started on World Environment Day when Aroma Natural met with ArtCorps Artist Miguel Zepeda Santos to think up an artistic activity that would send a message to Salvadoran society.
Some one said: “Let’s paint shirts that communicate a message with an image.” We all applauded this idea and began to put it in motion. We got the shirts, I found the necessary resources, we agreed on a date, we arranged for a location that would accommodate our needs and we were ready to go.
Joy, nervousness, doubts and many expectations could be seen on each of our faces when the day to paint the shirts had come. I remembered the words of my supervisor Fernando: “Your personality and the way that you present yourself to the group has a lot to do with the leadership that you will be establishing with them.” I had a small but important challenge: To transform the group’s doubts and nervousness into confidence in themselves and to get them to believe in their own and my abilities. As we had already designed the image, we began to paint. Each person started to see his or her creative capacity and imagination more and more. Little by little, the shirts started to look like we wanted them to and each person added his or her own special creative touch.
We finished all of our shirts and began work on a banner that would represent our group in a march in San Salvador where we were going to demand, among other things, laws to protect our deteriorating environment. The demonstration was coordinated with schools, workers and other social organizations and FUNDAHMER also wanted to be present.
The painting of the shirts and the banner was a success. Some of the commentaries that could be heard when we had finished were:
“Look how fast we finished.”
“This time it turned out better than other times!”
“It’s clear that we’ve gotten better.”
“For the first time we worked on our own and we made something beautiful quickly.” (On our own because they don’t see me as an external artist but as part of the Aroma Natural group since I was part of the FUNDAHMER staff last year.)
“Now we can really do it! We should make a Facebook page for Aroma Natural.”
These exclamations make it clear that I overcame my challenge and achieved my goals. When the day came, each of us participated in the march and wore our shirts with pride. People asked us where the shirts were sold, said that they wanted some for their groups and communities, and some even asked us to teach them the technique. In the midst of approximately 8,000 people, our shirts were noticed and we wore our artistic work with pride. The members of Aroma Natural were so excited, that our next project will be a mural in the entrance of FUNDAHMER. We have already done our brainstorming and worked out a design. Soon we will begin our new big challenge and big project. Now they truly believe in their own and my artistic abilities.
Miguel was recently invited to participate in a national human rights advocacy training for 20 youth activists from El Salvador.
Translated from Spanish by Karen Phillips
Tags: Art for Social Action, ArtCorps, ArtCorps Artist Miguel Zepeda Santos, banners, conservation, creativity, El Salvador, FUNDAHMER, imagination, march, parade, silkscreen, t-shirts, team-building, trust