Mural of Memory - Graffiti "Memories Give Life"
Mural of Memory "Memories Give Life" was created on a wall of Gimnazjum (High School) No. 17 in Lublin, at 2, Maszynowa Street, as a commemoration of death of children from Jewish orphanage at 11, Grodzka Street. During the liquidation of the Podzamcze ghetto, in March, 1942 approximately one hundred children from the orphanage were transported by trucks to meadows in the Tatary district, and murdered by Nazis there.
1. Idea of the project
The project results from a cooperation between “Grodzka Gate - NN Theatre” Centre and artists-educators from USA: Magdalena Gross, Gaelen Smith and Matt Litwack.
An aim of this project was to fight prejudices, deepen the knowledge of local history among youth and to bring back the memory of Polish Jews who used to live in Lublin. That is why the topic of children of the orphanage was brought up, it explains also where the idea of commemoration of their life and tragic death comes from. To make this project come true a power of contemporary graffiti art was used. In July 12th - 16th, 2010 high school teenagers worked together on a mural graffiti. It was painted on a wall of Gimnazjum No. 17 at 2, Maszynowa Street.
2. About the project
It took 5 days to create the mural. On the first day graffiti instructors meet young people in our Centre, where they presented their achievements, introduced participants into the subject of this project and revealed secrets of graffiti. Witold Dąbrowski from the “NN Theatre” took all participants for a walk following the trail of Lublin graffitis, to 11, Grodzka Street, where once there was a Jewish orphanage, and to Odlewnicza Street, where the murder took place. He introduced also a story of children of Jewish orphanage. At that point young people already prepared a wall for being painted and made first design of the mural. On next days teenagers worked on their designs and on the fifth day a mural was solemnly put in a city space. Among people who came to take part in this event, there was a director and students of Gimnazjum No. 17, students of other schools who took part in the project, fans of that initiative and media.
3. Symbolism of mural
An image on a school wall is composed of several symbolic elements, which metaphorically refer to fates of children of the orphanage, Jewish history of Lublin and to the conception of this project.
Magdalena Gross graduated from The Dominican University and The University of Chicago. For two years she has taught history in Chicago and then she started to work as a coach and director of the program Teach for America in New York City.
Magda is interested in historical memory problem and its presence in Polish educational system. Currently she pursues PhD studies in comparative pedagogy in Stanford University.
|Matthew Litwack is a 28-years-old graffiti artist. He was born in New York. He has been creating murals for almost 13 years, both for commercial and educational purposes. He graduated SUNY Purchase College in New York, where he earned MA in Anthropology.|
Gaelen Smith is a youth educator and social animator. For last years he has been involved into an artistic education and graffiti.
|Aleks Czernicki – a student of Gimnazjum No. 19|
Natalia Brzezińska – a student of Gimnazjum No. 15.
„I am 14. I attend the John Paul II Gimnazjum No. in Lublin. I took part in this project because I wanted to play my own role in commemorating a murder on Jewish children from the orphanage. I always recall this initiative with a smile. I really enjoyed the mood while working on that project, everyone was so nice. Everyone helped each other. I would take part in another similar event with pleasure".
Maja Kaczmarska - a 14-years-old student of Gimnazjum No. 15.
„I participated in this project because I wanted to try something new. It seemed to me a great way to spend the time of ‘holiday boredom’. I look back to this experiment with warm feelings. I learned something new, who knows, maybe it will be useful in future? The thing that stayed imprinted in my memory is a brainstorm before making a graffiti and a nice atmosphere on the place where we worked”.
5. Graffiti as an educational method
The art of graffiti provides means to enable young people to refer to the past using a language they are familiar with. It is very adequate to express individualism and emotions. It helps young people relate to the past and express their emotions in language of street art they are so comfortable with. The history of Lublin, which young people touch in various ways during five-days-long workshop, is creatively interpreted by the art of graffiti. Strength of this contemporary art branch is also a universality of language that is used. It helps to create an understanding between educators and workshop participants, who come from different backgrounds - different countries and generations.
During the project American guests passed their rich experience connected to the graffiti art. They realized their projects in many places around the world. Intense activities of both theoretical and practical kind were a great opportunity to learn for those who love this discipline of art.