By Daniela Sol
Passion is the dominant energy felt when conversing with Alexandra Sol, a 28-year-old art curator currently based in El Salvador. With grand hand gestures and eyes filled with curiosity, she explains her utmost inspiration, her project, Journey of an Artstigator. In her “journey” as she calls it, she documents graffiti art, street art, and muralism.
It started when she moved to Barcelona to get her master’s degree in Project Management. She first got her BA in Art History in Florida at Rollins College. Yet, it wasn’t her degree in Art History that inspired her to start Journey of an Artstigator, but rather the colorful streets of Barcelona plus the much-needed social work, with regards to gang violence, in her home country of El Salvador.
“It was in Barcelona, when I started surrounding myself with writers and artists that I understood that graffiti is a powerful echelon on the public art realm. It holds its own unwritten standards and dynamics and it’s very empowering,” Sol said.
After her experience working and indulging herself in the street art scene in Barcelona, she had major plans and dreams to bring all these ideologies back home. Her take on El Salvador now is quite different than how she remembers it as a child. She’s watching it through completely different eyes — eyes of change and opportunity.
“Having this span of not living here has allowed to me to enjoy El Salvador from a different perspective than to when I was living here as a child. Culturally, it still needs its own voice and expression which is what one of my goals, to make sure everyone understands we are all artists and there is no such thing as a standard of beauty for the arts. When art is done as a form of expression, therapy, liberation, protest, it is always beautiful.” Sol said.
This new perspective includes mostly the various necessities present in her country which Sol believes she can change through art. She is currently working, under her brand of Journey of an Artstigator, in the project: “Transforming Communities Through Muralism.” She works with rural schools around impoverished communities in El Salvador, specifically Apopa, which is one of the towns mostly affected by gang violence. She is currently executing the project partnered with the Salvadoran non-profit organization ConTextos.
Sol explains how this has been revolutionary to the communities within Apopa.
“Through this project, we are working with participants that live in high risk of gang violence communities, and we are leading a series of workshops to identify what the community is to them, what defines Apopa and what they wish to see, or be, in the future. Based on their responses, the muralist develops a draft and we all paint the mural.” She said.
This idea of community involvement through art is new to El Salvador. When Sol contacted artists to help her create her vision they were shook as to what was happening. An artist, Ana Gabriela Rosales, commonly known as Coki, described her experience working with her and Journey of an Artstigator as “interesting” and “attractive.”
“My experience working with the team of Journey has been interesting, attractive, and full of colors. It has opened my views about urban art in El Salvador, since no one has ever followed it as a cultural focus or promoted it to the aficionados.” Rosales said. She further went on describing how this eye-opening experience plus the help of Sol has inspired her to keep pursuing her career as a graffiti artist. “Ale like a curator and project manager is amazing. She makes me feel comfortable with my work and motivates me to not leave my graffiti aside, since she’s taught me so much about the art scene in Barcelona.”
Before Barcelona and its street art culture, Sol used to work in Washington DC at the Inter Development Bank. It is through her work in the bank and her experience living in the North East she came along muralism and street art in a more “structured” way.
“Discussing art essays and visiting museums and trusting that that was where I felt happiest the most was pivotal on the Journey. I’ve always looked up to Jane Golden, the Director of the Mural Arts Program in Philly, I admire her work in transforming spaces of Philadelphia that without the murals would remain unvisited,” said Sol.
Artists that work with her can account the power felt by the movement Sol is pushing forward in her country. Another artist that worked with her called Secle Styles, which Sol met in Barcelona but also worked with in El Salvador, mentioned how great it was to work with Sol and Journey of an Artstigator.
“The organization Journey of an Artstigator was impeccable and with it I made art workshops in various beautiful, active, cultural, and sociable places.” Style said.
With her first project coming to an end, Sol wishes very much to maintain this momentum on the arts in El Salvador and keep working hard on what she loves and believes in.
“I see public art like a breathing species, with life, with visitors, constantly changing. I would consider it a failure the fact that these murals might die, might go unvisited, might become a thing of the past. I consider it a failure only being in these communities for one week at a time. I wish it was a year-long program, I wish these children could leave Apopa and see that there is a beautiful world of freedom and opportunity out there, but I guess that’s what keeps me going,” Sol said.
As she paints, transforms, and brightens these communities, she wishes to expand and is excited as to what the future might bring for her and her artsy team. The journey is just starting as she leaves her mark in her home country.
“When you give everything, you’ve got and when you trust your instincts and what moves you there is no such thing as failure. Everything, every single move, becomes a lesson learned, an opportunity to grow and you become a better, wiser doer.” Sol said.
This passion has transcended to her work as she moves with artists throughout different countries, cities, and communities impacting, both her to the places and the places her, through street art.