Miami based Spanish street artist Ernesto Maranje just finished a wonderful mural in West Beirut inaugurating the launch of aptART‘s latest project in Lebanon called Paint Outside The Lines: street art beyond the borders of race, religion, class and conflict.
Entitled “The Rhino And The Oxpecker” the mural depicts a rhinoceros defaced with flowers and shrubs and an oxpecker in true Ernesto Maranje fashion with his signature style and colorful palette.
While still recovering from it’s own civil war, Lebanon has taken in huge numbers of refugees fleeing the current conflict in Syria as well as Iraq and Palestine. One in every five people living in Lebanon is a refugee from another country. Lebanon’s recent civil war combined with scarcity of jobs, resources and space causes tensions between people from different backgrounds.
To understand the importance of diversity and how people can work together for mutual benefit, kids were involved in workshops drawing the symbiotic relationships they see in nature. Their examples from ranged bees and flowers on land to clownfish and sea enemy in the ocean. They wrote ideas and drew pictures inside bright leaves that cascade up the wall. Ernesto Maranje then painted a giant black rhinoceros who shares a symbiotic relationship with Oxpeckers, or tick birds which sit on the rhino and eat ticks, blood sores and even warn the rhinos of danger. The image serves as a reminder of how diversity can be a benefit rather than a burden.
About The Artist
Ernesto Maranje is a Miami based painter, illustrator and muralist. Maranje uses his vivid imagination to portray the unity of animals and plants by pulling different segments from each and somehow making it a cohesive whole. Not only is the result pleasing to the eye, it reminds the viewer of our connection with nature. Ernesto’s purposeful art is a reminder of the relationship all living creatures share with each other. His message is especially significant today when so much conscious protection is needed for our survival. Colorful, whimsical and hinting at so many possibilities and interpretations, Ernesto’s art is one of a kind.
Awareness & Prevention Through Art (aptART) is an organization of artists and activists. aptART aims to share with conflict affected and marginalized youth an artistic experience alongside the opportunity to express themselves. The organization creates outlets to build awareness and promote prevention about the issues affecting people’s lives. In collaboration with local and international organizations operating on location, artists and activists coordinate workshops with youth from different communities. The workshops culminate in large-scale public art as well as individual pieces. The workshops and art focus on issues affecting communities with messages of positivity and hope.
Exhibiting both locally and internationally, aptART displays work created by children and artists participating in projects. Proceeds from the sales of photographs and children’s works are returned back to AptART to fund future projects. aptART has worked with youth in Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Jordan, Turkey, DR Congo, Mozambique and Europe.
Projects are made possible by the support and collaborations of Mercy Corps, War Child, ACTED, Skate-aid, Make Life Skate Life, UNICEF and the European Commission – Humanitarian Aid & Civil Protection (ECHO.) Collaborating artists include HERAKUT (Germany), Ruben Sanchez (Spain), Jonathan Darby (UK), Jumana Hokan (Syria), Yusra Aljabari (Jordan), Joel Bergner (US), Max Frieder (US), Ali Kiwan (Syria), Safeen Othman (Iraq), Bethany Burgoyne (UK), Screw Crew, (Jordan), Alesh (DR Congo), Luc van der Walt (South Africa) and Samantha Robison (US).
My utmost respect goes out to organizations like aptART for their continued hard work and awareness to the marginalized youth who are affected by war torn countries. I am originally from Lebanon and it warms my heart to know that aptART is raising awareness to the refugee crisis in a country the size of Connecticut that is barely staying afloat.
The refugees are not treated well in Lebanon, but also you have to give credit for the people who opened their homes to them during a time when the US and Europe are closing theirs. But at the same time racism and discrimination toward these poor people are very alive and at times edging on slavery, with keeping in mind that the unrest in the Middle East is primarily caused by the USA, NATO and their allies.