On Paints, Plants and Posts

{Jimin Kang Diary}

On the 13th of February, we received a special guest at the nursery: John Luria, the director of the Bridge Year Program at Princeton! In order to give him a sneak-peek of the ins-and-outs of working with Canteiros Coletivos, we decided it’d be a great (and colourful) idea to pack our paints, pens and pre-prepared plants and hit the road to ‘create’ another lamppost.

(This is a project currently being undertaken by Canteiros: we decorate old detergent bottles, fill them with soil, put in a few plants, and hang them around decorated lampposts on public streets.)

After all, if there’s one thing I’ve learnt at Canteiros it’s this: there’s no use in sitting around and talking about what could happen, if you can just head out and make it happen.

What began as a three-person walk to our chosen lamppost soon became a six-person crowd, as we were joined by volunteers Tiago, Lhaís and her friend Wily. Upon arrival at the designated spot, we promptly got to work: using a screwdriver and our nails, we managed to scrape off the advertisements that had been stuck on the lamppost. From their resistance, it seemed to me that either a) the advertisements had been there for years, or b) there’s a high demand for oven fixers in Salvador.

Anyhow, once the lamppost looked a little cleaner, we got to work. Initially we were given duct tape to make shapes, but with the impatience and spontaneity of real artists we soon gave up and began improvising our strokes. The canister of green spray paint leaked and got all over our fingers, which taught me the second most valuable lesson: maybe it isn’t the best idea to paint my nails the night before an intervenção.

At one point a homeless man came along, munching on jackfruit and old bananas. He was terribly excited by what we were doing and asked if he could some leaking green paint to draw a tree, which he did. He also took a banana peel and pressed it against the lamppost to create the illusion of ‘roots’. (For those concerned, this banana peel was soon removed.)

As the morning went on, we continued working on the lamppost with a thick marker, more paint, and the occasional strip of duct tape. Every so often a passing driver would honk his horn and tell us the lamppost looked beautiful; so did mobile vendors and pedestrians on the street. Such is the beauty of creating art in public spaces.

Once we finished our work, we stood on the other side of the road and admired our work. Now we’ll wait until the little white flowers bloom, and the plant to grow even more roots and stems and life.

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