A mural with meaning

The artists from the Artists for Israel initiative painted murals and ran workshops for pupils at Good Hope'Seminary Junior Primary School in Vredehoek.

Pupils at Good Hope Seminary Primary School in Vredehoek got a special treat last week from international graffiti artists.
The pupils got a painting workshop from the artists and something to remember them by – a free mural by the group.

The trip was organised by the Artists for Israel group, which saw artists from the United States, France, Spain and Portugal visit the school. One of the artists involved, Mike “2ESAE” Baca from New York, said they always look to work with local communities every where they go. He works for an initiative called URNewYork, said they go to other parts of the world and see what happens when they paint art.

“It became very impactful for the community and the children, it can be used as a medium of communication. Art is universal language. Where I grew up it was not possible to be a graffiti artists so we want to show them that It’s possible now. We are showing them the broadness of what art really is and how you can use it and become successful in life.

“If you really wanna be involved as a graffiti artists then you have to know it’s history. It’s great to see that it is continuing on. I remember as a little kid in the 6th grade seeing this kid who was doing graffiti and asked him to teach me. We had rough upbringings so that was a means for me to drown my sorrows, to paint. It was my stress therapy.”

He said the piece they were painting for the school kids was inspired by the Langa township mixed with the more wealthy community. It was inspired by a painting that was being sold at the V&A Waterfront by a local artist. “It is just to show that we should all co-exist but doing it in a playful way. Kids are so intelligent that they get it, probably more than the adults.

When we do jobs like this we don’t know what we’re in store for so we do it on the fly. We take photos of surroundings and we’re inspired by everything. We came up with the concept on the spot and it became political even though we weren’t trying to do that.”

Mr Baca added that the kids at the school had given them very positive feedback. “I remember the first time an artist came to my school and it blew me away and turned me into what I am now. We like to add colour to the world,” he said.

One of the organisers of the group, Craig Dershowitz from New York, said they were invited by the South African Zionist Federation. “We said that we wanted to work with the local community and we always love working with kids and in schools.

Everybody has been incredibly friendly and lovely. Just driving down Long Street to the paint shop everything looked super fun and cool.” He said that they always look to work with kids whenever possible. “Sometimes it’s more structured and formal but it is the interaction with the kids that keeps us going. That’s why we are painting at a school instead of a blank wall in the middle of the city. We are getting so much from it and getting paid with their energy and smiles.”