heArtAboveReality believes in the many benefits of creative expression and that it can truly make the world a better place. Not only does it often result in the creation of something beautiful, it allows us to express feelings, thoughts, and opinions through a language that can only be seen and not heard. It allows us to create the world in which we wish to live in. Holding these beliefs, our goal is to promote creative expression in all forms and continue to make the world a more beautiful place through planning and promoting philanthropic endeavors in the arts.
Update November 2014; by Catherine Czerwinski
Mural de Felicidad – A Collaborative Mural of Happiness
We are proud to present our first project that was recently completed in Playa Samara, Costa Rica in collaboration with Asociacion CREAR. Since their founding in 2005, Asociacion CREAR has played an active role in Samara’s community, offering the only extracurricular activities available to the local elementary children. From the beginning they have continued to grow in an impressive and highly respectable manner. Consistently making the best of what they had, the ladies who have started and maintained CREAR have always been overwhelmingly dedicated to providing the children with a place they can go to learn, create, challenge themselves, and of course have fun. It is only fitting then that they now, after nearly 10 years of service to the town of Samara, have been moved into the local community center. Blessing that it is, it came with a lot of work that needed be done. Inspired by the resourcefulness and tremendous positivity exhibited by Costa Rica and also Asociacion CREAR, ArtAboveReality worked with the children of Asociacion CREAR to create a mural that would reflect their happiness and add color to their new community center.
The Inspiration and the Idea
From the moment you arrive in Costa Rica, you just begin to feel better. You breathe a little easier, walk a little lighter, and laugh a littler freer. Often reported as “the happiest country in the world”, Costa Rica is well known for many pleasant things. Home to a shocking 5% of the world’s biodiversity, while there you feel connected to nature like never before. Surrounded by lush hills and valleys, volcanoes, fields of palm trees, gorgeous beaches of all shades of sand, it’s nearly impossible to not live in constant awe. The people of Costa Rica hardly take their homeland for granted. Recognizing its inherent value and attraction they take great measures to protect it; they pride themselves in their strides in sustainability. However rich in biodiversity, one truth remains, and that is their lack of monetary wealth. With an unbelievably lower GDP than the United States, Costa Rica fails to provide many comforts both expected and demanded in the United States. For many it may be hard to grasp how a country with such an outwardly lower standard of living could be so happy, but when you start to look deeper at their lifestyle, culture and values, you might begin to wonder if perhaps the whole rest of the world has got it all wrong. The more you get to know Costa Rica, the more you love and understand the “pura vida” (translated to “pure life”, it is much more than just their motto) way of life that is their culture.
There are many words that could be used to describe “pura vida” but we chose to share the essence of “pura vida” through a mural inspired by what makes Costa Ricans so darn happy. We didn’t go to just anyone in Costa Rica for this answer though, we decided for this particular mural to be designed entirely by the kids for the kids. Wanting to keep the mural simple and pure, we decided to gather inspiration from the children in the form of doodles of what makes them happy. From there we would create one large, cohesive mural that incorporated images from each of their drawings. We also wanted to have the children as involved in the creative process as possible, to not only provide the inspiration and sketches, but to also have them join in painting the mural that would remain on their community centers walls. This was the idea, and so we began.
The process involved several stages. We began one day by making happiness the theme of an English lesson, one of the many weekly activities Asociacion CREAR offers to the children. During the lesson, the children were introduced to the word “happiness” and we asked them to talk a little bit about what makes them happy. We taught them how to write the word “happiness” and they showed us the meaning through a bundle of simple drawings all depicting what makes them happy. They presented their drawings in English and we saved them for the next step. We repeated this activity in a similar manner with the pre-teen group, yet another regular scheduled offering by CREAR, at a later date and took their drawings for the mural as well.
The next phase was taking a look at the material we had to work with. We were just dazzled by the drawings the children created. They provided us with some really good stuff to use! There were palm trees, butterflies, surfing and swimming, soccer fields, bikes, rivers, families… the simple things that make them happy. After making the final decisions on which particular drawings to include we were joined by local artist Benjamin Cumbie who helped us replicate them on the walls in black outlines. After all the outlines were done, the kids were invited back to color in the lines.
A little messier than anticipated, it was really too much fun to watch all the kids continue to add to this large piece of artwork that had come straight from their inspired minds. They got to put their recent lesson on mixing colors to use as they all showed off their artistic skills. When the time came to stop, they were all covered in paint and smiles.
After cleaning up the children, we spent one more session cleaning up the walls a bit; adding some background colors and some additional doodles of happy things. Keeping it simple and raw with a child-like charm, we completed the mural and returned the community center to Asociacion CREAR, freshly painted and ready to inspire more joy.
And the final result? We were all happy with it 🙂