When PPG started the COLORFUL COMMUNITIES® program in May 2015, our belief in the positive and powerful impact of color propelled our committed employees to set out to beautify and revitalize our global neighborhoods together. Since then, many of our community transformation projects have included a special aspect that ties a project together: a mural.
Often times, Colorful Communities project murals bring to life the uniqueness of the local area where the project takes place. Demonstrating scenes of student activities at a school, friendships at a home for older adults, or tranquil landscapes in a bustling city, each mural is custom-created by a local artist.
Read on to hear from some of the global artists who have created beautiful, colorful murals and enhanced the transformations created by Colorful Communities projects over the past several years.
Q: Describe your process to create a mural concept for a Colorful Communities project.
Maria DeSimone Prascak (U.S.): I’ve worked with PPG on several Colorful Communities projects, including one at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. As a professional artist in the area since 1982 through my business Maria's Ideas, I've learned how to tap in to others’ imaginations, then transfer those ideas to the drawing board. With specific PPG paint color choices in mind, the ideas start to flow. For this particular project, I worked closely with several members of the art department at the zoo to create a mural that featured animals and landscape of the African savanna. I then drew the entire design and provided a chart for the colors to be used as a guide as the members of the community painted them like a huge paint by number piece.
Magdalena Kapela (Poland): I participated in two Colorful Communities projects with the first one taking place in Cieszyn, Poland in 2016. PPG employees beautified the city center with a colorful mural depicting noteworthy, local landmarks, such as the Three Brothers Well, the Rotunda and the Castle. For this project, I used bright, happy colors to create something really fresh within an old, dirty, devastated building.
I also joined a project in 2020 at the Automotive School Complex in Łódź, Poland to design a vibrant auto-themed mural. This mural combined car aesthetics and the history of the city of Bielsko-Biała, composed with the beauty and nature of trees.
Frank Chen (China): For the Flowers & Doves project in Shanghai, China, we found two buildings for murals in the center of a Shanghai street which was abundant in local culture. In the area, there are few street paintings that can be viewed prominently, so I began to think about how to use the language of painting to express the integration of internationalization and localization of Shanghai. While planning to use the simplest symbols to express the deepest meaning, the patterns of "Flowers & Doves" slowly emerged. The colors selected aimed to give people an inspiring power and be harmonious with the surrounding environment.
Danilo Bisquim (Brazil): I participated in the Colorful Communities project in Salto, Brazil in 2020. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many people around the world have experienced loneliness, including the residents of the Lar Frederico Ozanam, a home for older adults. With this as inspiration, I designed the lively murals to bring to life beautiful artwork that depicts their daily activities and inspires unity.
Q: What message or story did you hope to portray through the mural?
Maria DeSimone Prascak (U.S.): With each mural, my hope was to encourage others to see the beauty in nature and wildlife. I desired to put our phones and technology aside, even just for a short time, and use our eyes and hands to create something special. I hoped to inspire others to appreciate and care about the environment and to help protect the beautiful creatures for future generations to see and enjoy.
Magdalena Kapela (Poland): I aimed to combine the quality of art with the action of people. It is important for me that people smile – and something that remains with us forever. The murals added consistency, unity and the possibility to gain knowledge through observation.
Frank Chen (China): The mural was designed to bring viewers from a state of complexity to simplicity. "Flowers & Doves" is not like fireworks or a fleeting flame, but more like the fireplace in winter to warm people's hearts and the breeze in summer, to beautify people's heart. It simply shows happiness. I hoped people see themselves in the mural.
Danilo Bisquim (Brazil): One of the murals that was a part of the project included scenes of symbolic and popular tourist areas of the city of Salto, such as the Statue of Nossa Senhora de Monte Serrat, the city’s main bridge, the main Church and many others, to honor of their city. Many of the residents have an emotional attachment to the city and the historical places that they have visited all of their lives, so they were happy to find those places represented in the mural.
The other the mural shows some of the residents’ favorite activities, such as their work with embroidery, handmade materials and their community garden. The idea was to represent the people who live there, and make them feel connected to the art by being represented in the mural.
Q: How did the mural add to the overall Colorful Communities project?
Maria DeSimone Prascak (U.S.): Colorful Communities projects are always fun with so much energy and enthusiasm expressed by the participants. The murals bring life and color to the chosen space and provide an opportunity for many people to do something creative for the first time.
Magdalena Kapela (Poland): People often focus on their basic, daily routine duties. Because of the murals, they were able to stop, look at all of the beautiful colors and take the time to imagine more – to imagine their lives can be closer to their dreams.
Q: Describe your most memorable Colorful Communities experience.
Maria DeSimone Prascak (U.S.): I recall watching a woman's face light up after she finished painting the stripes on the zebras in the zoo mural, and a sweet little girl painting a big pink hibiscus blossom on another mural as she smiled for her mom. Hearing other express how happy they were to be a part of the projects and how they looked forward to bringing friends and family back to see the finished project was something I won’t forget.
Frank Chen (China): The city of Shanghai gives people hope and brings beauty to their lives. The Colorful Communities program does the same. Through this Colorful Communities project, "Flowers & Doves" was a gift to the city of Shanghai and salute the lovely people who live there.
Danilo Bisquim (Brazil): I was very moved by creating something so special for people who were needing a bit of color and brightness in their daily lives.