Here some words from the main sponsors of the Chimachoy Community Mural:
"Thanks for the
beautiful and detailed final report! For us it was a joy to follow this
colourful project. And the result is great! You can be proud of yourself that
you have achieved this despite all the pressure, bizarre weather conditions and
other difficulties. Also thanks for the regular updates and beautiful pictures.
Good luck with upcoming activities and projects."
beautiful report you have written. (..) you can proudly look back on what you
have achieved and hopefully many people will be able to enjoy it for a long
With the third mural (Starry Night) done at the educational centre Brillo de Sol, a special school for special kids in Guatemala, we're looking for sponsors for murals in the remaining three classrooms! Each mural costs $250, but smaller donations are welcome too!
You can donate US $ or Euros using the "Donate" button on this page (through PayPal) of email me (carinsteen at yahoo.com) for deposits on a Dutch bank account. THANKS!
of my favourite projects in Guatemala
is Brillo de Sol, a school for kids
with special needs. I already had the pleasure to paint two murals there, now I
just finished the third for the kids from The Universe (Grade 1 & 2). When
Ilene Kradin offered to sponsor it (her second mural already! She also
sponsored the one of the girl with rabbit and Luna the dog!), well, it was a
done deal! I didn’t even have to make a design because the teacher, Ms. Jenny,
had asked me if I could paint Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night. Well, of course! It happens to me one of my favourite
paintings and to be able to paint it on such a large scale (3.8 x 2.9m) was a
I only paint my own designs, but to pretend to be Van Gogh for a change was a great
opportunity. I was looking forward to use Van Gogh’s rough brushstrokes and
follow his swirls and curls. It’s not easy to paint someone else’s style, but
it is also a great way to really get to know a piece of art and of course learn
Saturday, Ilene and I (besides sponsoring the mural she also offered to help!)
started with a grid and than painted most of the sky. We made good progress,
but by the end of the afternoon I was not quite satisfied and couldn’t tell
exactly why. So it was good to leave it for a day and come back on Monday,
today, to finish it.
this morning I realized what it was I didn’t like Vincent’s brush strokes! As
much as I love them (in the original painting), they were too strong, too
fierce, too imposing… So I decided to paint over them, blend colours, soften
the whole image and make it lighter. Sorry Vincent! The result is much more
tranquil and that is a good thing, because many of the kids in this classroom
have concentration issues, so the last thing hey need is a crazy, frantic mural
in their learning environment....
the same reason, I also changed the Cyprus tree on the foreground. It
was too dark and gloomy, too scary. Now it’s dancing in the wind with much lighter
tones of purple, green and brown.
sincerely apologize to Vincent van Gogh for making changes to his masterpiece.
I hope he’d understand why. I can only say that the teacher and kids are happy
and that’s what matters most to me.
a million to Ilene Kradin for sponsoring this and the previous mural, as well
as for helping out!
now that we’re back to the topic of sponsoring, the rest of the kids want a
mural too! The Ocean kids (Grade 5 & &), The Forest (Grade 3 & 4)
and The Scientists (Grade 7-8) all want to transform their wall. And you can help
to do so! Sponsor a mural for only $250 and those kids will have a permanent
work of art in their classroom… (Partial donations welcome too…)
I’ve been looking forward for weeks to write this very last update on
the community mural in Chimachoy, but now that the time is there, I’m actually
at loss for words…
This mural has been the centre of my life for the last few months now. Starting
with the $1000 grant I got from Te Pollination Project in March, I then had to find more funding (the lacking $1500)
in order to realize the project, which was a little stressful. I had already handed
over $400 to the community for wall repair and plastering, so there was no way I
could drop out. Thankfully the rest of the funding came in and after a series of
workshops with the students from both elementary and high school to define the themes
and create images, we were ready to start painting by the end of June.
All in all, everything has worked out perfectly. Yes, the painting did
take much longer than expected, there was some rain, a lot of extreme cold and heat.
Even a hurricane that literally forced me to come off my ladder, but we managed
it. The mural is now finished, all 65 meters of it!
It has taken more than a hundred hours in painting, about the same
amount of time in designing, prepping the workshops and teaching, as well as
about 25 hours in traveling. I will miss those weekly trips to Chimachoy but on
the other hand, man, am I glad it’s done now!
Yesterday was a perfect last day. I was happy to have plenty of help
from the high school kids as well as volunteers Jenneca Fevos and Marie Duca. We had to finish painting the last 15 meters
plus the titles of all the panels in three languages (Kaqchikel, Spanish and English)
in just two days and we did! We were about to finish when it started raining at
4.30pm, but after a short break we were able to continue with the last titles
A little emotional I got in the car, ready to go home. As we drove by
the mural for the very last time, I was just thinking how grateful I was for so
many things, one of them being the rickety pick-up truck I had hired for our
transportation holding up during al those trips. (It wasn’t the best of cars,
but its owner Carlos is very friendly and reliable but mostly because it was
the cheapest option…). I shouldn’t have had that thought, because of course,
right at that moment, the car stopped short. Dead as can be.
So there we were. The two volunteers were in the back of the pick-up
truck, it was already getting dark, thick raindrops falling down and a
motor that just didn’t want to start. I had already locked up the school so
there wasn’t even a place to take shelter if the rain would start for real. And
where do you get a mechanic, this late, at an hour distance from Antigua? But thankfully, with the help of some rough
looking Chimachoy men, Carlos was able to fix whatever was wrong and twenty
minutes later we were on our way, racing down the hills under rumbling skies. The
huge traffic jam we got caught in was a bit of an anti-climax, but we made it
and at 7.30pm I was finally home.
More on this project will surely follow, but for now I’m going to take a
short break. I want to thank Jenneca and Marie for being there with me
yesterday; Carlos for getting us there (and BACK!); the kids; the teachers; the
people from Chimachoy who cheered us on and of course all the people and
institutions that sponsored this project. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!
the imposing volcano of Acatenango, amongst the rolling hills and sprawling
green fields, lies the village
of Chimachoy, a small
indigenous aldea of only 700
habitants. It is one of several villages dotted across the countryside of the
San Andrés Itzapa region where the Kaqchiquel-speaking residents maintain and
celebrate their Mayan roots and traditions. Many community members support
their families through agriculture.
Chimachoy, the two small community schools provide a standard education to
local children according to the Guatemalan National Curriculum and try to
foster creativity, critical-thinking and social consciousness in their students
through extracurricular, sporting and cultural activities. As part of an
initiative by the organization MuralArte Guate, the school Director – Laura
Esperanza Vasquez de Back – and the staff of both schools are currently
implementing an art program to help the children celebrate their roots and
visualize the intriguing combination of tradition and modernity within their
This fascinating project –
run by the Dutch artist Carin Steen, who has painted dozens of community murals
across Central America and Europe – involves painting murals and running art
workshops in different public spaces, communities and schools across Guatemala.
The project is aimed not just at beautifying public spaces – but also using art
to provoke dialogue and to transmit positive, constructive messages that
benefit and honor the local community. In Chimachoy, MuralArte is
painting a giant mural in collaboration with the school kids and the community
as a whole that will depict the culture and history of the community and the
vision that its habitants have for their future.
aim of this fantastic project is to bring the local community together to
create a valuable collective work of art and to raise awareness of the
importance of celebrating cultural heritage and fostering collective projects
to strengthen communities.”