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Mluv! Speak!

Projekt Polidstèni Sidlistè
Project of Humanizing a Housing Estate

Ostrava, (in the former) Czechoslovakia

Dirt mural. Locally gathered dirt adhered to concrete wall.

11 ft. x 11 ft. or
270 cm. x 270 cm

View of full mural on wall.

I travelled to Ostrava to join Aaron Noble, another artist from the San Francisco Festival in Eindhoven, Netherlands, to drum up local enthusiasm for a pilot muralist exchange project run by Parallel, an organization devoted to cultural exchange between San Francisco and the former Czechoslovakia.

All visible color in the mural is from local soil. Before my arrival, my host collected several samples from the surrounding environs.

Aerial view of the housing project
The dirt mural was created during my stay at the housing project where it is sited on the school wall. According to Radana Parmová, my host, the mural stands intact today.

Peter and his daughter sift dirt
After color selection, my host, Peter, his six-year-old daughter Anna and I sifted all the dirt for the mural in two small strainers, all that was available to purchase locally during a time of stressful economic transition.

Judith flings dirt on the wall
Layer upon layer, I threw dirt on areas of wet primer.
Detail: layers of dirt painted in geometric shapes - dots, circles, stripes, diamond.

Detail showing layers of dirt painted in a pattern of a chevron, stripes, and dots.
Judith wets a paint roller while children watch
The local kids watched and tried to communicate with me in Czech, a language difficult to pick up in just a few days.