Founded in Mexico, Proyectarte Internacional shows vulnerable Rabat students that “they can achieve anything” through painting.
Rabat – Young people are adding more color to Morocco than the traditional red and green of the nation’s flag. In an environment where young people may feel unable to express themselves, it is not difficult to imagine that they may feel constrained and trapped by their emotions. However, there are ways other than through words to express what they feel.
Founded in Mexico, Martin Olivier Gonzalez, 18, introduced his project, Proyectarte Internacional, to the Mohammed Ben Abdesalam Sayah middle school in the Rabat Medina. Meaning “express yourself,” Proyectarte aims to empower young people who have suffered through art, specifically painting.
Olivier Gonzalez states that not only have these young people come from backgrounds of extreme poverty, orphanages, and other difficult situations, but many have also lost sight of their future.
Olivier Gonzalez told Morocco World News that these young people “lose courage to pursue their dreams, chase money rather than happiness, follow someone else’s expectations, or follow what they think is right, but is actually not. They don’t follow their heart.”
Under Olivier Gonzalez’s NGO social association, “Ualis” meaning “It’s possible,” Proyectarte shows young people that they can, in fact, lead successful lives and achieve anything if they put their heart into it.
Ten students from Mohammed Ben Abdesalam Sayah middle school who had experienced extreme poverty, domestic abuse, or trouble at home, volunteered to participate in Proyectarte over the past three months.
According to Olivier Gonzalez, the students seemed like they didn’t know what they were getting into at first: “They thought they were just going to get painting classes.”
Olivier Gonzalez admitted that they started with ten students and ended with seven, because three dropped out as the project turned out to be “something different.”
The methods of Proyectarte were developed in Mexico with Olivier Gonzalez’s mother, a professional coach and an established painter, Emilio Pazos. Over the span of ten classes, students learned to express themselves in three phases.
The first phase was called “exploration” or an “introduction to painting.”
Olivier Gonzalez and his team showed the students that they didn’t need to know how to use a brush to paint. The students became familiar with painting techniques, color combinations, and materials. Olivier Gonzalez stressed that Proyectarte is “for people who have never painted before.”
The second phase was called “Theory and Deepening of Art.”
On a slideshow, Olivier Gonzalez and his team displayed famous paintings with brief backgrounds of their respective artists. The students then chose a word that they associated with that piece. For example, one of the slides included a work by Van Gogh in which the student associated with “craziness,” a recognizable characteristic Gogh’s works.
Through such exercises, students built empathy between themselves and the painter and could answer the question, “What do you have in common with the artist?” Olivier Gonzalez answered, that “heart, passion, and story is what everyone has in common.”
The last phase was called “The Creative Process,” where the students finally got the chance to express themselves on canvas.
Each student was asked to find images that inspired them in what they wished to express. After, the students verbally discussed with Olivier Gonzalez and his team how and why they wanted to achieve that inspiration through painting. The students then painted their idea on a small, test canvas and moved to the larger, final canvas when they felt ready.
Each students’ final paintings were put on display at a public auction in Bab Chellah on November 29. Each canvas was sold raising more than $700. Some of the funds will pay for one year of painting classes for the students, while the rest of the funds will go to NGO Ualis.
Olivier Gonzalez explained that by the end of Proyectarte, students learned the value of their art and that if they are “persistent, honest, and willing to put their heart into something, they can achieve any goal.”
Olivier Gonzalez further explained that the students could now physically see their own expressions on canvas which is an important step toward self-empowerment.
Proyectarte’s successful turnout in Rabat empowered youths and instilled a new sense of hope and perspective of life through art.
In a video filmed after the students finished the project, one boy said that Proyectarte “taught him that he can achieve anything” and told others to “dream big, because everyone can reach their dreams.”
Proyectarte hopes to establish three more projects in Morocco within the next year as well as in England, Portugal, and Mexico. Olivier Gonzalez hopes that Proyectarte will eventually branch out to all corners of the world to “transform the lives of young adults through art.”