Cape Verde, West Africa: “Na Terra de Cabral”
Joel painting a portrait of Amilcar Cabral, Cape Verde’s revolutionary hero who helped free the nation from the Portuguese colonizers before being assassinated in 1973.
Joel spent the first couple months of 2011 in this West African island nation at the invitation of the national cultural center, Palâcio da Cultura. It was here that he began developing his “Expressive Group Painting” approach in which the youth are given a specific color scheme and are allowed to express themselves though words, drawings and abstract expressions. They loved it, and used their creativity to fill in the entire background of the mural. This background was incorporated into the main images of the mural. The themes of each piece, the imagery, and the poetry were chosen by the kids themselves in workshops he conducted with them prior to painting. Joel’s residency included an exhibition and presentation of his work at the cultural center, public art projects with a school and youth center, workshops with local artists and a series of solo murals.
fun with art!
Kids in Mindelo, on the island of São Vicente, come to help out on the mural.
The president of Cape Verde came to visit Joel as he painted! (You know you’re in a small country when the president stops by to see you paint; Cape Verde has only half a million residents across 9 inhabited islands.)
Students work on the mural in a school for troubled kids in the capital, Praia.
“Na Terra de Cabral”
mural in progress on the island of São Vicente
Joel and local artists Va and Alex pose in front of a mural that was designed by the local youth to represent their neighborhood and culture.
Cape Verde 2011: Students in the capital Praia work on a mural
Cape Verde 2011: This mural in Praia features a poem authored by one of the students, who writes of the dangers of drug abuse, a big issue in this neighborhood. The poem is written in the local language Kriolu (creole), which mixes Portuguese with African languages. It is powerful to present Kriolu in public spaces in Cape Verde because the people’s language is usually ignored in favor of the official language, Portuguese.