Painting New Roles and Relationships: A Rural Community Mural Project in China

By Samson Kei Shun Wong.

Published by The International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper is about the 2012 mural project as part of an on-going community art presence in a village in Henan. Headed by Village Leaders, the Henan Community Center for Education and Research and Hong Kong NGO Art for All, a creative framework and physical platform of a 330 metre wall was set up for the 200+ Villagers to express their views of ‘the ideal home’. By positioning this as an artistic instead of a community education or development project, it created new expectations and roles that required new skills and relationships. Colour and images preceded words and texts; education slogans were enriched by real life situations; the well-spoken had to learn a new language; new faces of young and old emerged to take initiatives. The Community Artists taught basic skills, directed workflow and decided overall visual balance. They invited groups to step back periodically to observe the big picture and facilitated artistic discussions to keep people engaged. Villagers re-interpreted existing propaganda slogans into their own mural. The process of creating the mural was a fun activity where Villagers explored new skills, roles and relationships. By combining onsite observations through participation as a painting assistant, the author tracks and analyses the creative process, participants’ dynamics and emergent decision making process of the project.

Keywords: Artistic Process, Participatory Arts, Community Development

The International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts, Volume 10, Issue 2, June 2015, pp.1-13. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 926.243KB).

Samson Kei Shun Wong

Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Visual Studies, Lingnan University, Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong