ArtsUp Artolution Lakia Youth at Chance Village Mural, Lakia/ Negev, Southern Israel
ArtsUp, Yeledim Besikui and Tambour Paints
7 meters canvas, 10 meter wall
2 day – 10 hours
It has always been a dream of mine to work with a bedouin community, and see how such a unique culture fuses their background with color. Through working with ArtsUp and “Yeledim Besikui” at a Pnemia ” Youth at Chance” Center in the Negev dessert, I was given the opportunity to see it for myself. As we entered the bedouin community of Lakia, although we were in Israel, the images of any middle eastern city began to pop up. Not tents and Camels, but rather towers, white stone buildings and desert. The Pnemia was waiting for our arrival and immediately greeted us with Tea. I came to quickly learn that the population was actually a mix of children — different bedouin tribes and families, as well as an Eritrean community of kids — northern Africa. As we began to hang the canvas., we were asked to extend the size of it all the way across the corner of the main yard of the center. This made this piece over double the size we had anticipated, and opened the possibilities to the sky. The ground began with a a rambunctious group of youngsters, who took to the color with fervor. When the concept for the piece came along, the girls who we were working with had some fascinating ideas. This was especially interesting because the boys and the girls were not allowed to associate with one another most of the time. The concept the girls came up with was to have a well that had music emerging — the bucket of water. This music was then turning into instruments which were turning into a cloud of people forming a married couple. All of these girl had come — very difficult homes and the emphasis on family was an amazing exemplification of the simple goal in the mind of many young Bedouin girls, and girls all over the world;to have a family. When the boys were asked to come up with a concept it couldn’t have been farther — this. They wanted to draw cars. Lots and lots of cars. And houses. And houses that could move. House-cars. Although rudimentary at first, this idea evolved into a complex fusion of forests, figures and moving houses which enveloped the opposing wall to the girls. The concept of a moving homes became referential to the traditionally nomadic nature of the Bedouin. However today, most of the Bedouin Tribes of the Negev dessert live in houses. A fascinating fusion which is paralleled by the extremely bright colors the children decided to use on the piece. The final day was composed of only the eldest children; boys and girls working together. All of the boys were Eritrean and the girls were bedouin, The combination was unexpectedly calm and tranquil. The kids quietly painted, and were completely enveloped in the project without a hint of distraction. A huge surprise to me considering the at risk nature of the kids of this youth village.The piece finished with a final line of what seemed like hundreds of repeating House-cars being repeated across the winding stretch of pathways which had been painted to be emerging — the feet of the world famous icon “Bobsfog” ( Known in America as spongebob.)
As I spent my final night in this community, I was invited to come play a rollicking game of soccer with the kids, with a dinner afterwards. I watched as the 9-12 year old boys prepared a meal on their own around a single stove burner. They set the table with A long roll of paper towel, and small bowls of food in the middle. As we sat around, all of the bouts dug into the food with their hands, as was the custom. As we silently ate together, I couldn’t help but notice that as I dined with these children ( most of which only spoke arabic) the television in the background blared a 90’s re-run of Americas Funniest Home Videos. An irony that flows through the overlapping comb that the world brushes its own hair with. And with a thank you to the boys for the hospitality, I departed, deeply impressed by the composed and hospitable nature of these children. And with my departure the next morning, I realized that this mural was a story that traveled back in time. From the mobile house-cars of today, to the beginning of life, the music of the water of the well.