It was a whirlwind trip, ten days total and only three and half painting due to rain. But thanks to the tireless spirit of our host Vanessa Vanek and the support of more than fifty volunteers we did it. Conceived via on-line dialogue, designed both in Lawrence and Songdo and painted by a diverse group ages eight to eighty, the mural is a modest first step in establishing community-based arts in this nascent city.
The mural, aptly titled "Songdo: A City on the Rise," will greet park goers and passersby as the city grows around them, and hopefully soon it will be just one of many murals and other community-based artworks dotting the urban landscape.
Last Monday, I was amazed to see the planning that had gone into the dedication ceremony for the mural. An elaborate drapery with golden tassels covered the mural held up by the student painters. Speakers from Chadwick, Songdo and IFEZ made heartfelt comments about the project's impact on their young people and the city - how it was a first step in new collaborative endeavors between the three.
The assumption is that mural's title refers to the herculean effort being put forth to build the infrastructure and buildings surrounding Central Park, but I added, during my comments at the dedication, that the title also refers to human potential and development embodied in the young people from Songdo and California that we were fortunate to work with. The City in my mind is the people - and Songdo will thrive as they cultivate and care for one another.
I am grateful for the invitation and humbled by the welcome from the Chadwick community. Their trust and support of the project never wavered. I only hope that the mural (and process of making it) gives back the joy and learning we received. It was too short my friends. I look forward to the next visit.