Paris – Le Mur: an ever changing mural
Rain is one of the most vital elements for the sustenance of life. On the 13th of December the falling rain was a welcoming experience when visiting 107 Rue Oberkampf for Le Mur in Paris. Le Mur is a mural project in the 11th district, which features a select artist every two weeks. Le Mur’s first artist Gérard Zlotykamien has been followed by others such as the likes of; Above, C215, Jef Aerosol, ROA, Ludo, MadC, Sobekcis, Miss Van, Tilt, CRASH and Shepard Fairey.
Upon visiting the vernissage that day, the brick wall was brought life by guest artist Michael Kershnar. Michael “Mike,” said he had just completed his mural one hour prior. Michael’s addition to the infamous Le Mur wall of fame is titled “Lion.”
Lion is inspired by Michael’s experience working with Sam Carlos and the wilderness project with the Ndeh Apache Nation Reservation. Michael had spent time himself working with Sam and chose to incorporate the Apache Cross and the Four Corners to express, uplifting, non-dogmatic inclusion of cultures. He sates ´the lessons of the patchwork in “Lion” weave life together and represent respect for all. This is aligned with Ndeh Apache Nation’s motto “one people-one nation.”´
When interviewing members and volunteers of the Le Mur association, artist and co-founder Thomas Schmidt explained that Michael Kershnar is one among hundreds of artists that have applied to be invited for the opportunity to paint. Jean Faucher founded Le Mur in March of 2003, who mentioned that she remains on the association’s board as Treasure and continues to work with City Hall for funding artists. Volunteers such as Lana Mayote, also assist in fundraising and public relations.
According to Thomas, the initial mission was to morph a billboard used for commercial publicity, into a legal wall for artists to share their talents. Thomas explained that artists whom apply are have been dedicating their life’s work to creating art as their livelihood. Applicants must have a minimum of 3-4 years experience painting large scale walls and murals. Artists submit examples of their work and curator Gauttier Jourdain, makes the final decision of which artist gets the opportunity to contribute to Le Mur’s concept.
Le Mur has now expanded encouraging commission jobs for a variety of artists in cities throughout France (such as Bordeaux and St Etienne). The blending of this unconventional approach to fund artists to paint legally is controversial among some street and graffiti artists yet, Le Mur has set a progressive precedent for artists to thrive and be honored for the beauty and culture they bring to the city streets and community.
Article by Stacy M. Frahm.