Collective Mural Empowers Artists
A collective mural project in the ghettos of Mitchell’s Plain, Cape Town forms part of a journey towards greater recognition and acceptance of artists by the authorities, business and the community as a whole.
Through the MEETCHANGEMAKERS-sponsored mural project artists were also able to create lasting and impactful messages about gender-based violence and other social ills.
“Our S.M-ART event day uplifted, impacted and empowered over 70 artists, says S.M-ART co-founder Rizah Potgieter.
“We at (S.M-ART) are committed to a future where artists are revered as cultural icons of courage and change, enabling young and old alike to communicate freely and fearlessly via the medium of all forms of art. The day culminated in an epic Mural Art workshop, collectively painted a mural that portrays the difference made not only for the artists in their lives but also for the surrounding impoverished community.”
S.M-ART changes lives through innovative, arts-based workshops which “reach those who need it most, those affected by GBV, those with family members addicted to drugs, those who have mental health issues and are affected daily by the gang violence in the ghettos of Mitchell’s Plain,” he says.
The impact can be seen through the words of the artists:
“I can say it’s been therapeutic, painting graffiti, and even stepping sometimes out of my given medium or expression relating to aerosol art,” says Ethan Hendricks, an aerosol artist who has been “painting in the streets for seven years.
“S.M-ART took me out of my comfort zone. I went down the expression high path. And it was challenging, but it made me grow. Let me grow into what I least expected.”
Ethan has also learned the value of working to a plan, rather than “freestyle”.
“When I came to S.M-ART, I learned how to work with a structure and, and how to be part of the planning.
“And I also learned how to share the vision within myself because the way I expressed my art was always bound in the moment”.
This has empowered Ethan to make a difference in his community.
“I have been equipped now to know how to contribute to change. Before when I was structureless, there wasn’t a narrative with people or platform where people could draw and learn from me”.
Se.M-ART supports all types of art, such as rapper Edwin Wessels.
“Before I came to S.M-ART, I was very low in self esteem. I didn’t believe in myself, because I lacked self confidence in myself to be on the stage to put myself on a bigger platform.
“S.M-ART helped me realise that I could put more time into what I do and focus more on my craft so I can be more useful to my community, and how I can reach out to the youth by putting strong messages in my music so they can understand and feel what I felt growing up.
“Because the life of an artist is different to the life of anyone else. So basically, what gave me the confidence was learning how to speak with people and how to communicate with your audience.
“I got all that knowledge from SMART,” says Edwin, who is also a graffiti artist, producer and beat maker.
“What I can tell you is that if you work hard and believe in yourself, you can achieve anything. So never let self doubt bring you down because you never know how far you might get”.
To hear Edwin rap, watch the video below.
Another rapper to reach new heights through the S.M-ART programme is Caleb Baxte, who comes from a family of rappers and musicians.
He joined the S.M-ART programme after gaining experience working with other artists and performing at community events for Mitchell’s Plain youth.
“SMART was a total new level for me. It was things that I didn’t know, like performance art, and stage culture. I really had to get out of my comfort zone and found that I could dance and perform.
“It was actually cool for me. And what I want to do is to influence the youth through my music.”
Luciano Koopman recorded a rap song in Afrikaans for MEETCHANGEMAKERS.
Poetry and the spoken word are also making a difference in Mitchell’s Plain through support provided by S.M-ART.
Charmel Miller has been emboldened to become a change maker. “When I entered into S.M-ART, I only had books and files full of words. I knew my words rhyme. I knew at had punch line. I knew it had an impact. But then I came to S.M-ART they said, ‘but you’re good.’
“I knew I was good, but I never believed in it. So, when I came here, I found faith.
“When I came to S.M-ART, it was magical. I was like, what am I going to do with all this poetry and all these feelings and emotions?
“S.M-ART gave me confidence that I already had in my head, but not in my heart. I knew I was artistic, but my art was never showcased.
“I know I’ve inspired not only those in my circle at S.M-ART, but other people out there because there’s the stigma where we tell our kids our youth and our people that your opinion isn’t valid.
“Well, I’m here to say that it is valid. I am here to say that whatever you feel inside, it’s worthy to be known.
“And do I change the world with spoken word poetry? Yes. One spoken word at a time. Yes, I can change it. I know I will.”
The theme of the project and mural is “Teaching a man to fish”.
The participants learned that you have been given the tools (talent/skills) to excel in life by the finding the will to use these tools and believing in yourself you can achieve your goals with patience and perseverance.
We also fed the participants on a weekly basis with soup, akni, breyani, hot dogs, boerewors rolls and refreshments. Participants also received stationary packs to help them continue their journey with art.
We would love to extend on the mural given the opportunity with funds.
We have been given permission by the Ward councillor and property manager of not only this site but many sites around Cape Town’s impoverished areas.
The mural thus far has changed the environment for surrounding residents and passers-by, starting conversations about the communities who can take lead in their own right to make a change.