International Community Mural Arts Program, 2016 Turkey

Istanbul, Beykoz, Turkey May 2016

I was honored to be selected by the US Department of State and Meridian International Center to be a cultural ambassador in Turkey through their International Community Mural Arts Program.

I worked with Turkish music artists Suha Semercin and Ozgur Ozer and teenage girls from a local vocational school to create a 40’ long mosaic mural on the facade of a municipal building in Beykoz, on the outskirts of Istanbul.

Based on conversations with project stakeholders, I created a design that included a bridge (based on those that span the Bosphorus) as a symbol of bridging cultures and unity, and natural elements inspired by the decorative arts of Turkey.

The large radial forms are often found on painted ceramic tiles and pottery in Turkey, and were designed to include different styles of mosaic setting with both glass and ceramic tile. 

We worked over the course of about ten days to create this mural, with the help of the teen girls, teachers, participants from the US Consulate, and community volunteers. I led training sessions for the groups, assisted by Suha and Ozgur, and we created the larger design elements inside a temporary studio, then install them and crated large areas of background on site. 

It was a fantastic project and my hosts from the municipality of Beykoz were wonderful and supportive. 

They organized an incredible dedication ceremony, which included the participants and their families, project stakeholders, community leaders and the larger community.

I formed wonderful friendships on this project and it will remain in my heart and memory for a very long time. 

A favorite moment:
After everyone left the mural site at the end of the day Ozgur and I stayed until dark almost every night, working side by side to finish certain areas, make adjustments, clean up, etc.. We were so in tune… like sisters. 

One evening a man comes up to us and his reaction to the mural included this: 
”All we need is peace and happiness and beauty. This country needs more women like you.”

Here is a link to an in-depth blog post I wrote on the Meridian International Center's website: