This used to be an average residential neighborhood in Rome. But thanks to 20 international artists, it has been turned into a type of open air museum, where one can't help but to stop and look.
"When we first arrived the area seemed abandoned. Even the gardens were in bad shape.”
This local artist goes by the name of Mr. Klevra. He is one of the painters who turned these buildings on Viale Tormarancia, into canvases.
Byzantine Religious works are his specialty. And this piece is no exception. It took Mr. Klevra four days to start and finish this image of Our Lady with baby Jesus, titled "Our Lady of Shanghai.” Below it reads 'Under your protection we seek refuge.'
"This is a closed residential lot, so Our Lady represents the city of Rome. Christ who is in her arms, represents the community who calls for attention and affection. It's an icon of motherhood and Rome is asking for affection.”
This piece follows hundreds of other religious works he's designed over the years. With the permission of the city and even without it, Mr. Klevra has depicted Our Lady and Jesus, in popular spots all over Rome. Sometimes they last one day. Others last years. But he says it's all about transmitting a message, even when it's inconvenient.
"The first two days I worked on this piece, it was raining. I had a t-shirt, two sweatshirts and a two jackets on, and the rain just kept on falling. I only stopped when I felt the water trickling down my spine, but that's it. When you're working on this kind of art, you don't want to stop at all-not even to eat.”
Renowned artists from all over the world were given a clean slate to showcase their talents.
Some drew symbols, others chose to depict people they met in that very neighborhood. This project was launched by a local art program called 999 Contemporary. Now this residential area that was often overlooked, has become a symbol of how inspiration and even devotion can change everything.