Sunday 23 November 2014

The Power of Paint

Through a friend, I discovered the fabulous TED Talks series of videos on YouTube. TED Talks are short videos presentations whereby people working in fields like design, art, technology, music, etc. share their experiences and insights in an effort to spread ideas that can improve how people live.

The website for the organisation ( gives the following info about how TED got started:
TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world.
Anyway, the reason I bring this up is that I have been watching lots of TED Talks and I have come across two fine ones about how urban art - and actually, just paint itself - can transform communities. Given this blog's focus on street art, I thought the reader(s) of this blog might be interested. In fact, I thought it might inspire you somehow and give you - whoever you are, gentle reader - some ideas of how to use art and colour to improve your community.

The first talk I want to share is called "How painting can transform communities". Here is the link:

The talk was given by artists Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn who create community art by painting entire neighbourhoods with the help of the local residents. They have carried out projects in various neighbourhoods from Rio de Janeiro to North Philadelphia.

Their projects gradually grew, becoming more and more ambitious, while seeking to involve the local people in the process of transforming their communities. One interesting idea in their talk above is the way they moved away from seeking grants for their projects to funding them through the method of "crowd-funding". In fact, they sought contributions from people through Kickstarter to paint one of the Rio neighbourhoods as part of their Favela Painting Project:

Here is a video about how the artists' work has developed over the last eight years:

And here is a longer documentary on the artists, part of a series called 'Challenge the Obvious':

Now, here is a talk on a similar theme, give by Edi Rama, an Albanian politician and the current Prime Minister of Albania. He had been an artist in his young life and served as the mayor of Tirana from 2000 to 2011. During his time in that office, he decided to improve the city by bringing colour to the streets, starting by painting some buildings orange....

This is his talk about the experience and how it helped to start a transformation of the city:


Here is the website for the Favela Painting Project, run by artists Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn :

And the Project's Facebook page:

Here is a video of the artists persuasively pitching for funds for their project and showing clips of some of their previous projects:

Here is a BBC News story on Edi Rama and his efforts to bring colour to Tirana:

And a similar story from France24:

Also, here are some blog posts, with pictures, discussing the painting of Tirana:

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