Washington DC & Baltimore: Art & Social Action Projects

Washington, DC 2014: "Felipe's Story pt. 3" is Joel's most recent in a series of murals on the art center BloomBars. The piece features a boy in Rio de Janeiro's City of God community who Joel has known since 2009, when he began doing community-based art projects with youth. The imagery reflects the struggle that boys in many marginalized neighborhoods go through as they grow up, surrounded by negative and positive influences.

Washington, DC 2014: “Felipe’s Story pt. 3” is Joel’s most recent in a series of murals on the art center BloomBars. The piece features a boy in Rio de Janeiro’s City of God community who Joel has known since 2009, when he began doing community-based art projects with youth. The imagery reflects the struggle that boys in many marginalized neighborhoods go through as they grow up, surrounded by negative and positive influences.

Washington DC 2012: Detail from "Ganesha" in DC-- features the Hindu deity Ganesha, the "Remover of Obstacles," and deals with people's life obstacles that they create themselves by failing to release their personal baggage. Corner of 1st St and U St. NW.

Washington DC and nearby Baltimore have been host to many Action Ashé projects, as DC was Joel’s home basefor several years. In collaboration with institutions like the Latin American Youth Center, the Boys & Girls Center and Ballou High School, Joel has led many workshop series and mural art projects with local youth. He also organized initiatives with vulnerable populations in the DC area who wished to tell their stories to the wider community through public art. They were interviewed by Joel and chose the imagery and content of the mural designs. The “Global Refugee Mural” gave three refugees from Iraq, Myanmar and the Democratic Republic of Congo the opportunity to share their experiences and educate the community about the important issues in their homelands. Joel partnered with the International Refugee Committee (IRC) on the project, which was featured on the global news network Al-Jazeera English. (Funded by the Montgomery County Council on the Arts.) “Currulao y Desplazamiento: The Afro-Colombian Mural” on DC’s busy U Street was designed in collaboration with seven of Joel’s friends in the Afro-Colombian community who have asylum in the US due to the armed conflict in the Pacific Coast region of Colombia. It aimed to celebrate their vibrant culture and educate the public about an important, but mostly invisible, human tragedy. (funded by the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities) “A Survivor’s Journey: The Domestic Violence Awareness Mural” featured the participation of three local survivors of domestic violence who were being assisted by the organization DASH (District Alliance for Safe Housing). The artwork explored this issue in order to bring it to the public’s attention, and highlighted the inspiring stories of women who had overcome great obstacles in order to rebuild their lives. These three projects were inaugurated by large public events that featured musical and dance performances, refreshments and speeches by members of the groups who participated in the designs, who shared their experiences with the public. (funded through a Kickstarter campaign)

All images copyright © 2003- 2013 Joel Bergner

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