“A musical instrument appeared to me when words could not speak. Her body was steady like a pyramid and her soul formed by four chords. She said to me; I will develop your culture, change your sorrow into dance. Bring unity strength and harmony. Teach my children and they will never forget“~Omar Sling!
This is my second blogpost in a row where I focus on traits of a particular person. You met Pepijn, one of my Dutch models for a sustainable lifestyle. In Curaçao, Omar Sling has touched me with his thoughts and creations. One thing that Pepijn and Omar have in common: they both care for nature and a clean environment.
A note to the reader: This post might not be as sustainablility-loaded as my usual posts. But it’s worth taking a look at the drives of my local (Curaçaoan) people into taking first, cautious steps into sustainability. So today I’m introducing Omar Sling.
I’ve known Omar for a while as “Omar, the graphic designer”. I knew he had studied multimedia design at Grafisch Lyceum Amsterdam. Little did I know that more than a designer, he was an artist. After paying him a visit a few years ago, I knew that he was not just a regular poster-maker.
His walls were covered with curious 2D and 3D pieces of art being sculptures and paintings. I fell in love with a lamp on his table, and started collecting things that were dear to me with the intention of asking him to make a lamp containing all my treasures (never told him though). His eyes sparkle as he tells me about “BASS”, his first sculpture (made in 1998), inspired on a souvenir his aunt brought from vacation made of iron.
Today, 5 years later, Omar turns waste into special Curaçaoan art. He doesn’t just stick stuff together and calls it art, but he wants to send out a message of hope, progress and a sound future. Last week we spoke about the characteristics of his art and the drive that keeps him going. Through his art he influences environment and people, two basic principles of sustainability:
– Reuse: Omar only uses local waste materials. “I don’t search for materials, they find me. In Curaçao people are ashamed of taking old tires, a mannequin’s leg or pieces of old metal along the road. When the material finds me, I take it. It spends days in my yard and suddenly I find myself creating something out of it”.
– Social inclusion: Children who have no means of going on vacation or taking part in a paid vacation activities-week (typical Dutch Caribbean vacation activity for children), they are given a free vacation activities-week where they learn how to make pieces of art, make their own instruments and play music. The less they have, the more they value and appreciate their own work. Instead of spending time playing videogames, they enhance their creativity and are given a voice through their art.
– Education on culture and local arts: Omar teaches children how to be creative and speak their minds. He gives them concepts and tools to help them pursue their interests. He has done several projects on schools the past years.
– Local souvenirs: The people of Curaçao are very talented in many ways. Locally produced souvenirs stimulate employment and culturally enriches tourists. Omar’s dream is to produce local souvenirs reflecting our history, customs and culture.
My personal favourites are: SowÇao and KokoYoko. These artworks reflect on social issues.
SowÇao represents the island of Curaçao, with her authenticity and flaws, but so nice to live in. SowÇao is a piece of art produced by artists Omar and Francis Sling. “This artwork consisting of a mix of materials and media symbolises the fact that much can be created with little resources as long as you want it.”
“The aim is to inspire every “Yu di SowÇao” to see and speak more about the greatness of the Island and its people, as if it’s our mother“, Omar continues explaining. I love the way she spreads her arms, might look horrible to some, but remains authentic to herself. She is loved by the people who truly appreciate her.
“KokoYoko: It’s a cry, “wake up!” The light is coming, good things are on their way. The lights uncover colours. Colours help you find the way. They tell each other, echoing from far. KokoYoko. Day is coming, darkness is disappearing, good times are ahead. For us, for our children,….KokoYoko“.
How about making KokoYoko part of our own locally produced souvenirs?
Through his art Omar makes the best out of waste, increases awareness about keeping our natural environment and expresses his desire for cultural development and positive change, while contributing to the education and inclusion of less fortunate children.