For the past several months internationally renowned artist Edwin Gil has been quietly working on a project at the Paris Street Gym and Community Center with members of the gym’s after school program, staff and families. Gil, a contemporary conceptual artist best known for his vibrant colors and paint techniques, collected paint fingerprints from Paris Street children, parents and staff to incorporate into a mural depicting the faces of three Paris Streets children.
Last Friday Gil joined Paris Street’s staff and families to unveil the completed mural. The mural, part of Gil’s international multiyear anti-bullying project “Faces of Diversity, depicts Paris Street’s cultural diversity through the faces of Jonathan Brown, Chester Mecagni and Jenna DaSilva.
“This project allows students of many different backgrounds and viewpoints to express themselves and understand each other through a visual representation of diversity” said Gil. “When I came to East Boston I was amazed by the diversity in this community. This project is about accepting people for what they are. When you go to park and you see all these different trees and leaves that make a beautiful environment and that is was I want to celebrate in people.”
The fingerprints provided by children, staff and families celebrates Paris Street’s diverse cultural backgrounds and serves as the backdrop of the three subjects’s portraits. The fingerprints and portraits were painted on large glass panels that will eventually hang in Paris Street’s main lobby.
Gil, a native of Colombia, said he had overcome many hardships in life and hopes the project serves as a lesson to the community that kids of all backgrounds can work together to build each other up and respect differences.
The mural also teaches kids and adults that sometimes you don’t know what a person is going through personally and despite cultural differences we are all human and we all experience love, loss, adversity, isolation and, at times, heartbreak.
“There were times I was broken, but I took those pieces and created the man I am today,” said Gil Friday.
Gil chose the children depicted in the mural based on his/her life’s story, which was used to create a narrative behind the artwork. The story and artwork will promote Paris Street’s mission to support the cultivation of positive climates while promoting safe environments free of bullying and harassing behaviors.
“The three faces on this mural represent who we are at Paris Street,” said Director Nicole DaSilva Friday. “When I look out into the crowd I see all kinds of different people from all walks of life. Here at Paris Street everyone is welcome, everyone is embraced, and everyone is loved and that’s what this mural represents.”
Gil began the Faces of Diversity project in 2012 with the goal of creating 111 murals across the globe.
Front Page cutline,
Jenna DaSilva checks out her portrait as one of the subjects of artist Edwin Gil’s mural at the Paris Street Gym and Community Center. Gil’s mural at Paris Street is part of international multiyear anti-bullying project “Faces of Diversity”.