Graffiti artists from across Mexico and US unite over two days in the colony Nueva Vallejo in Mexico to create murals as inspiration for local residents to take action in bettering their community through art.
Words and Photographs by Raquel Natalicchio , Mexico City - February 4, 2017
North of Mexico City in the colony Nueva Vallejo, 'Mi barrio Resurge Festival de Arte' was born from the concern of neighbors to improve their neighborhood and give an example to the rest of the city how art is able to create a better environment to live in. From February 4th to the 5th, 22 artists including some of the best from all over Mexico along with artists from Los Angeles and Detroit in the US, gathered to paint three blocks worth of walls.
Collaborating organizers Idalia Lopez and graffiti artist ‘Ashes’ teamed up representing residents speaking out to better improve theirneighborhoods from within community cultural and art committees. The two organized with graffiti paint shops, artists and neighbors, first choosing a location, then artistic themes and color schemes for each wall, resulting in mandalas, free wall and nature inspired themes. Some neighbors even came out the day before the event to help prepare the walls for the artists. “This festival is about bringing color and life back to the streets, but more importantly its about getting people together and actively involved in making their community a better place. Gentrification is inching its way towards our community, so we want to set the pace and do things from our point of view. ”said organizer Lopez.
Throughout the two day event, artists painted from morning to sunset while neighbors passed by. Residents stopped in their tracksmesmerized in wonder having never seen not only their streets filled with color but, so many artists all painting at once. “ Im happy that every time I open my front door I will see thesecolorful walls, I wish all the walls in the community looked like this.”said a resident whose home is across the street from the walls being painted.
With every piece being created independently by a different artist, it was interesting to see the unison of all the pieces on each separately themed wall.Within a couple hours into theirpainting, there was a moment where every artist was in sync to their neighboring artist. French graffiti artist ‘Trust’ now living in Mexico City said “ I’m just throwing my emotions on the wall, right now I feel differently than I did when I painted the inside of the letters earlier, so now I have to change them as the piece is constantly evolving with myemotions and environment” The sense of freedom created by the welcoming of the community set a very serene tone for the artists to work with. The neighborhood was buzzing with positivity and excited chatter. Someneighbors even asked the artists if they could come paint the walls in their gardens and streets. One neighbor in particular asked a couple artists to paint his work van, he brought his two young daughters to watch with excitement.
‘Cache,' long time graffiti artist from Los Angeles who traveled to Mexico for the festival said “I like that the neighbors were into it, and the little they have, they offer.” Neighbors fed the artists both days with delicious Mexican home cooked meals. I asked if from Cache’s perspective he thought that having the neighbors see the art being created and being involved in the movement to beautify the neighborhood will inspire them to take charge into doing so with the rest of the community? ‘Cache’ replied “ I sure hope so, I saw a spark in a kid's eye when he saw us painting, it gave me a little bit of hope for the future.”
This was the first of a two part festival revamping the streets of the community, bringing them back to life with vibrant art. The second festival will be happening in the same fashion in April, with even more artists, both national and international.
For more information and list of artists involved visit Non Profit Organization organizing this festival: Culture al Hilo , www.culturalhilo.org/
For more photos from the festival follow link , www.raquelnatalicchio.com/mi-nuevo-barrio-graffiti-fest-mexico-city-2017/
All photos are copyright to ©Raquel Natalicchio