Mural, Mural On the Wall
After doing tiring manual labor for four consecutive weeks, we finally began putting the finishing touches on the playground at the preschool, which meant we needed a constructive plan for our final two weeks. Guided by the principal’s request, Bryn and I began sketching possible murals for the outside of the school, one for an area near the stairs, another for a wall space on the second floor. The project seemed simple enough until Alyce began showing our plans and designs to the Censorship Committee. You heard me correctly. Bryn and I are both proud to say we have been censored in Vietnam, as both of our initial proposals were critiqued like a poorly made film. My first drawing was completely rejected, and I was told to use a landscape photo of ducks from one of the storybook’s the preschool uses. Bryn’s drawing wasn’t exactly scrapped, just changed in every conceivable way. Initially, he was planning on drawing animals all along the stairs, but then the principal (and the Committee) decided they should be playing musical instruments, that there should be no dogs and cats, and that there should be children dancing. After a rather frustrating week of drawing and erasing, we finally produced some decent sketches that were cleared for takeoff.
The painting process itself was another battle. After amazing success in mixing the correct yellow for the background (to match the rest of the school) we proceeded to sketch and paint with glossy, acrylic paint that could only be removed by petrol. So every morning, Tao stopped by the gas station to get our cleaning supplies (which also became the only way to clean our hands; never thought I’d be bathing in gasoline). Needless to say, we were always very careful and tried our best to stay upwind of the noxious, brain-killing particles. Don’t worry, we’re still alive!
Difficulties aside, the mural painting process was a nice change of pace. After painting by ourselves the first two days, Bryn and I decided some help was needed, not only to speed the process, but to provide some comic relief (it’s tough painting alone for four hours!). Even after periodically stealing workers from the other worksite, it still took two weeks to finish, but I know Bryn and I are very proud of our final products, and it’s definitely cool to think that my attempt at artistic painting will always be here in Vietnam! You can take a look at the day-by-day process above.