November 30, Kathmandu: It was a jam-packed auditorium, albeit a small one, at Yalamaya Kendra in Patan Dhoka on Tuesday where students from the three fine arts colleges in Nepal got to meet a real-life American street artist who has made it big in the tumultuous world of street art- gaining financial and professional success. The students were as inclusive and diverse as the graffitis and murals painted by Alejandro Poli Jr. known more by his artist name “Man One” who hailed from the City of Angles, Los Angeles, California.
The students, who were of varied ethnic, financial, and age groups, were captivated by Man One and his backstory. Some of them had turned up expecting a boring lecture on street arts but what they got was one of the most lively and practical sessions on how it can be used to spread the message of inclusivity and positivity, and how you can still make a living out of it.
“The two-hour session felt like mere minutes. Those were the shortest two hours of my life,” remarked a 33-year-old art student who had battled personal demons for 10 years and had found resolve in the world of arts.
Man One is in Nepal as a US art envoy. According to the US Embassy, he is here for a twelve-day program to promote and celebrate the voices of minority and socially excluded communities.
During his time in Nepal, Man One will collaborate with local artists in Kathmandu and Janakpur and organize a street art project to showcase Nepal’s vibrant multicultural society through art.
A group of Nepali muralists, graffiti artists, folk, traditional artists, and creative practitioners, will jointly work on a final mural design with Man One that captures visions for social inclusion. The final large-scale mural will be unveiled on December 9.
Man One will also conduct interactive lectures on the themes of social inclusion and equity and will also share some of his work and his understanding of the history of graffiti as “protest art.”
Growing up in the gang violence-ridden L.A. of the 1980s, Man One’s murals have an evocative message of peace and love. The students were amazed at how he incorporated his Mexican and “Chicano” heritage in the murals even while doing commissioned pieces for corporate houses.
“Such exposure for a student like myself is unheard of,” said one student from Lalit Kala Campus who thanked the US Embassy and wished for such gestures in the coming days.
Tuesday’s session saw the participation of students from Kathmandu University School of Arts, Sirjana College of Fine Arts, and Lalit Kala Campus. The art campaign is being organised in association with Artudio, a Nepali art collective.