When 12 children, their parents, a church, a neighbour’s wall, paint, wire and many hands came together the result was love at Mt D’Or Junction, literally 25 feet of it, along the Eastern Main Road.
In a heartwarming display of community unity and creative expression, one NGO–Developing Art and Design Awareness & Projects (DADA) with the Mt D’Or St Jude RC Church, came together to bring a powerful message of love to the area.
This is a big change from the negative image of the historical ‘hotspot’ nestled among industrial giants like the Carib Brewery, WITCO, SBCS, former Unilever, an ice cream factory, and a sawmill.
The economic landscape in the region has seen a boost in recent years, with the establishment of the country’s largest Standards store, a Food Basket branch and pharmacy, a casino, a hardware store, and a four-tower HDC complex. Yet, it’s the small-scale art project like this DADA expression wall that touches people every day.
DADA secured permission from Mt D’Or resident Anthony Apparicio to utilise the EMR space for the project. Over a week, children from the neighbourhood worked tirelessly to bring the art to life.
DADA member Sean Leonard said, “We wanted the children to determine the message. It was easy for them as they all reached for the theme of love. In the end, the children helped to change a negative space in the area into something aesthetically pleasing now.”
St Jude RC Church provided space for the workshop and assisted in recruiting local children and families to participate. Architect Leonard and artists Adele Todd and Dean Arlen, both DADA members, guided the project.
Arlen, a well-known figure in the art community, emphasised the importance of such projects. He said, “Our main goal is to support the creation and installation of public art in Trinidad and Tobago in ways that enhance the environment, benefit local communities, promote sustainability, and foster collaboration.”
Arlen underlined the idea that public art should be accessible to everyone and has the potential to involve the community, public processes, and even public funding.
Currently, Arlen, as a member of DADA, is engaged in other long-term projects with children and the community in the Heights of Aripo St Judes RC School. Securing support and funding remains a challenge, but “it’s probably harder to get the general society buy-in to the concept of communities transforming through social/collaborative art and design. It’s not the only avenue, but it is an effective one”, Arlen said. The organisation is committed to supporting collaborative, participatory practices that encourage social change.
To further their mission, DADA is hosting a free three-day symposium, “Social Art & Design: Public Space & Community Transformation,” with working sessions scheduled from November 16 to 18 at the Central Bank.
Those interested in participating can register by calling 475-5257 or emailing email@example.com and look out for details in the media.