Tracing Public Space: El Sabor Staircases

José Félix Ribas, Petare June 18, 2016
Team: Ana Vargas, Raquel Portillo, Ana Cristina Rodríguez,Gabriela Puppio.

Two hundred volunteers became the protagonists of the project “Tracing spaces in the El Sabor staircases”. The stage chosen for the intervention was the 275-step stairway in the  José Félix Ribas neighborhood of Petare, one of the biggest slums in Latin America. The challenge was to lay the children’s book “Blue and Red” published by Camelia Ediciones, written by Mireya Tabuas and illustrated by the artist Patricia Van Dalen and the designer Ricardo Báez.

The day started with a storytelling session by Nancy Moreno from “Pasa la Cebra”. The story is about a mom who likes the color blue and a dad who likes red. “Both of them believe their color is the best one and they force their son to choose his favorite. He picks purple because is a mixture of both, that’s why we are using purple shirts today.”  These are the words of Jean Luis, a boy that lives in the area and excitedly narrates the story.

The children shaked  the spray cans forcefully for at least three minutes, that was the instruction. The spray cans rattled like maracas to the rhythm of the kid’s excitement. In the meantime, other groups laid the tiles in colors referencing the book’s illustrations.

In five hours the book was written and illustrated up the stairway. Juan, a builder of the neighborhood tells us about the highlight of the day: “Many groups gathered in the plaza near the stairs to lay the tiles. It was the best moment of the day because it illustrated the image of the story when two circles, blue and red overlap to create a new color: purple”. From this moment on, the effort of going up and down the stairs to the plaza was made more pleasant with art and literature.

Now, every time the neighbors walk up the stairs to their homes and they read the story, surely, they’ll remember this message: We can coexist while celebrating our differences. At the end of the day, we are a mix of colors, emotions, hopes and  dreams; we are all like the color purple.

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