Children’s Mural Workshop
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In 1987, in response to a request for help from community leaders in the struggling Barrio Batahola in Managua, three former art students began teaching mural workshops to children. The program was a success and two years later, the three muralists passed their roles on to other youth in Managua and moved to Estelí to continue their program.
The idea was to empower the people while at the same time reclaiming Nicaraguan culture and promoting the participation of children in society. They found that painting murals was an empowering achievement for the participants, and the creation of the murals was invariably tied to further community activities and social work (and lots of pretty pictures to look at).
Today, the mural project is known as the Fundación de Apoyo al Arte Creador Infantíl (FUNARTE), a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization run by a group of young adults who grew up through the original mural workshops. They offer weekly painting workshops to hundreds of Estelíano children for free and give special workshops for imprisoned teenagers and children with disabilities. The murals depict their history, culture, and the daily reality in which they live.
There are well over 100 murals in Estelí, the majority of which were painted by participants of FUNARTE’s workshops. The murals are best viewed and photographed in the late afternoon sun, as many of the best are on west-facing walls.
The paintings are everywhere, but take special note of those on the Alcaldía (mayor’s office), Casa de Cultura, and in and around the Parque Infantíl (nine blocks south of the main plaza). Also, be sure to get a good look at the long, horizontal mural on the wall of the army base along the Pan-American Highway, just south of the main bus station.
To visit FUNARTE’s headquarters (tel. 505/2713-6100), walk four blocks south from the southwest corner of the plaza, then two west to reach the main workshop, itself covered in powerful paintings; continue another block west, turn right past the mural depicting the book The Little Prince, and make your next left to arrive at the offices and classroom.
© Randall Wood & Joshua Berman from Moon Nicaragua, 4th Edition