Hi there! I’m a JJ who loves to paint, and while there is much to be said about that, let’s get to the point of this evening and what I’m doing here (by the way, I’m stoked to be here!) I was invited to come paint live for this event and curious as to what it was all about and who it was benefiting, I did what any good old fashioned person would do… I googled it.
I believe in painting with purpose because I believe I was created to paint, and not just paint but paint with the power of story in mind. And after my google search, so began the story of MADE IN THE STREETS intertwining with the stories I paint and thus bringing me here tonight.
I watched a short film about five students of MADE IN THE STREETS in Nairobi, Kenya. MITS is a school dedicated to not just getting kids off the streets, but offering them a fulfilling life in place of the emptiness and short-lived highs that the world has to offer. MITS is dedicated to nurturing the individual to be their true self, to not be defined by their circumstances, surroundings, or what they’ve been told about who they should be. Being our true self is something all of us need, no matter what part of the world we live in, whether we know it or not.
I love the power of story and how it can so beautifully be visualized in a movie or short film. Different people will always pick up or be drawn to different messages throughout a story. These are the three things that stuck out to me as I watched this short film by David Hutchinson:
1. Amina, a female student, was asked if she could change one thing about the world, what would it be? Her answer was men (boys) who disrespect women, men who rape and beat and abuse… that is what she would change so that it no longer happened.
2. Glue is the number one drug used on the streets of Nairobi for people to get high, check out, numb out and escape from the current state they find themselves in. It’s cheap, it’s available, it’s everywhere. The high takes away the pain for a moment, only making it more and more desirable so the pain doesn’t have to be dealt with once the high wears off.
3. At the end of the film a student named Moses, who aspires to be a chef and change the world around him, was asked “if there was one thing you wanted Americans to know about you, what would it be?”
His response: “I would want them to know… how far I want to go.”And so the title of the short film came about… HOW FAR I WANT TO GO.
Tonight as I paint I will be carrying these three things in my thoughts and prayers as I translate the music into colors. These three things will be the driving force behind the painting.
Why do these three things stick out to me?
1.) Amina. I cried at her response. I cried because it’s the most honest and beautiful response a young girl could give. For me, as a girl on the other side of the world who has also been affected by what Amina desires to change, I stand with her and admire her courage and her boldness to voice her distaste for injustice.
This isn’t to say men are the problem and women are the victims. This is to say there is a people problem… people seeking to satisfy the emptiness they feel, some with sex, some with glue, some with alcohol, some with work… fill in the blank.
There are moments when we all feel it, that emptiness, and there are things that we do to make it go away… for a moment. Given Amina’s experience, she desires to not see other girls go through the same thing, to not see men use girls to deal with their own emptiness… because someone who would violate another human being in such a way has to be just that… empty, or the opposite… full of pain refusing to be dealt with.
2.) I found it heartbreaking that glue is used as an escape, that even something as simple as glue, something meant to be helpful, something meant to keep things together is being used to harm and make people fall apart. This goes to show that it doesn’t have to be an obvious “bad thing” like drugs or excessive alcohol that people use to cope, creating a problem in their lives. People can take any good thing and make it “bad” based on how