Colombia: Buritaca and Guachaca

Over the last three decades, armed conflicts and violence in Colombia have led to the highest rate of internally displaced people in the world according to the UN. In result of this displacement, there now exist many communities within the country that are comprised of those who have had to pack up and move their lives due to this trauma. Since 2014, Artolution has been returning to these regions to launch community art projects centered around displaced youths. With so much cross-cultural collaboration, the art itself encompasses various forms of expression including mural, performance, silk screening, graffiti and street art.

In contrast to other Artolution projects around the world, participants in Artolution’s Colombia initiatives find it difficult to discuss experienced trauma and displacement  due to the continued fear  from persistent paramilitary groups and drug traffickers, among others in this region. This fear has silenced many of the participants from sharing their stories out loud. Artolution’s goal is to create a safe place for those who have experienced trauma to express themselves in a more comfortable medium. Through their art, they can find the relief they would otherwise not have access to.

2019 Projects

January Buritaca Project

Artists Include: Joel Artista, Co-Founder and Team Lead | MasPaz (Rico), Global Ambassador and Muralist | CJ Thomas, Perfromance Artist | Cita (Miss CheLove), Muralist | Erika Murcia, Performance Art | Notable, Graffiti/Street Artist | Daniel Cardenas, Videographer and Photographer | Washington D.C. Artolution Artist Team | Colombia Refugee Artolution Artist Team

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During the 2019 Buritaca Project, Artolution’s goal was to train Colombian and International Artists to create a consistent and on-going program within Colombia that focuses on working with youth in displaced communities. In order to do so, Artolution hosted a two week project lead by Co-founder Joel Artista and Global Ambassador, MasPaz.

The project worked with 80 students from a school in Buritaca that ranged in age from 10 to 17 years old and consisted of three parts, the first in which a mural was executed, the second in which a group of students worked to create an inclusive performance that expressed different type of dance and the final project - an inaugural Artolution International Digital Art Exchange.

The murals within the 2019 Buritaca project covered themes such as the indigenous groups that live in the region, protecting the environment, characteristics of local animals, elements of local bodies of water and the students’ dreams for their lives and community. One of the project’s most impactful moments came when a 16-year-old boy came up with his own design and executed it with the help of his peers. He lives and works on a nearby banana plantation with his family and sketched out a detailed drawing representing perceived dangers of pesticides being dropped on the crops. It featured a plane overhead fumigating crops, with the village and natural environment underneath. All participants in the project assisted in helping this boy paint his vision, and the experience helped give him the self-confidence to believe in his own ideas.

The last phase of the 2019 Buritaca project was Artolution’s Inaugural Digital Art Exchange between Colombian and Jordanian displaced youth. The project connected a group out Syrian Refugee Youth that reside in Jordan with their Colombian peers. The project was quite a success and featured two meetings over Skype in which both groups were able to meet via video chat to discuss daily life and their experiences of displacement. The participants within this portion of the project then drew inspiration from the conversations had and created digital art on tablets that was then turned into a collaborative digital mural and art video using images from both groups.

Through these projects, Artolution was able to further establish a Colombian artist team with both displaced and international artists to promote and implement ongoing local programs for displaced youth, empowering them to share their ideas and gain self-confidence through skills-based projects painting, silk screening and performance. The hope is that these Artolution projects will continue to help promote healing from trauma they have experienced in their lives and engage the community for years to come.

Special Thanks to Artolution’s Partners for these Projects in Moria

La Sierra Artist Residency (@la_sierra_artist_residency)

GIZ, Qudra Program

January Guachaca Project

Artists Include: Joel Artista, Co-Founder and Team Lead | Wilson Oswell, Muralist | CJ Thomas, Performance Artist | Nandy Mondragon, Muralist | Erika Murcia, Performance Art | Notable, Graffiti/Street Artist | Daniel Cardenas, Videographer and Photographer | Colombia Refugee Artolution Artist Team

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Arguably Artolution’s most art diverse project yet, the 2019 Guachaca project incorporated several murals, including a Foundstrument Soundstrument, performance, photography, videography, street art, screen printing and portraiture. The project spanned two week and was planned and implemented by by Co-founder Joel Artista along with the Colombia Refugee Artist team.

During the first portion of the project, Cita led a great portraiture workshop, Rico led a discussion about environmental issues and Notable talked about the indigenous community, all of which informed the artwork in the mural.

The second project was even more successful in this respect, as the artists took responsibility for big workshop sessions that often went on for hours, all of which were extremely popular with the participants. Kids would crowd around Nandy as she introduced them to the magic of realism and portraiture. Even those who had a hard time focusing excitedly sat all afternoon in a hot room as Wilson taught graffiti lettering techniques, which were then used on a giant graffiti-inspired mural.

In the final portion of this project, Daniel Cardenas lead a series of workshops that taught students how to conduct interviews on film which incorporated educating the students on useful video and photography skills. The students then were able to apply these skills and also create their own long-exposure photos using colorful lights in a dark room.

Special Thanks to Artolution’s Partners for these Projects in Moria

La Sierra Artist Residency (@la_sierra_artist_residency)