Visions of Hope
“For me, it was like people getting to know I had the gift of drawing. It’s like exposing to the world that I really have the gift. I was happy that the world knew.”
-Diana, age 17, Harper Project Participant
April 2011 – August 2011
35 youth participants
Transformed a war-torn town
Visions of Hope: Revitalizing a Liberian Community Through Art took place in one of the most desolate and isolated regions of Liberia. This project fostered community activism, cultural revitalization, and youth participation in the arts to transform a war-torn town. We started this project based on the idea of how difficult it is to live in a place that constantly serves as a reminder of the traumas of war.
In Harper, a small town in the epicenter of the conflict, every third or fourth building is a burnt-out structure that looks exactly as it did when Liberia’s fourteen-year civil war finally ended in 2003.
This town exemplifies the overwhelming challenges that Liberians currently face in the reconstruction of their country. This project was designed to give the residents and youth of Harper a chance to step away from this difficult reality and imagine something different, and then display it publically. During five months, Colors of Connection created a local arts committee made up of community leaders and recruited fifty-six youth (28 females and 28 males) from eight local schools.
We partnered with the community to mobilize a transformational process that turned this war-torn landscape into one that expressed hope in the future of Harper and Liberia as a whole through the creation of four murals based on the following themes: better agriculture and a healthier market; healthier communities; bringing energy and electricity; positive local culture of Harper and the importance of education for children and girls.
Under the guidance of the local arts
In May 2011, while the youth were creating the murals around town, the Director of ChildArt Liberia, a local non-profit based in Monrovia, joined us to hold a three-day teacher-training workshop for eight teachers from eight local schools to teach the importance of using art in the classroom and techniques for teaching the arts. In June 2011, the youth participants created a portable mural to be part of a multimedia show in September 2011 for the International Day of Peace with the international children’s mural movement: Art Miles Mural Project. This provided these Liberian youth with an exciting opportunity to take part in a larger international youth mural movement.
In August 2011, thirty-five proud youth graduated from the project in a public celebration. These four murals were a catalyst for the growth of imagination and hope, which are essential to the rehabilitation and rejuvenation of the Liberian population. This project was carried out with the support of the local government and community leaders in
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“What I believe is that through the paintings you can impart knowledge on people. There are people who are illiterate, who don’t know how to read and write, especially in Liberia here, and through seeing the paintings they will get to know that the paintings are imparting a certain knowledge in them, and they will understand that.”
-Kadiatou Bah, age 17, Harper Project Participant