It was very deadly wildfire and very destructive in Florida. It started at 6:30 a.m. on Monday, touched off by faulty electrical transmission lines. It burned for a week or so and consumed 74,000 acres of land. In all, the wildfire caused $8 billion in damage, destroying nearly 8000 buildings, killing 40 and left 9000 homeless.
James 25 years old, grew up in Orlando. His childhood buddy Philip posted pictures of a wall-the only part of his house to survive- James felt helpless. And then he had an idea.
“I’ve got to paint this wall” he said to Philip. “I am an artist. It is an opportunity for me to express my talent.”
Amid the rubble, burnt trees and cars blackened, James spent three hours painting a strikingly white image of a bird man on the wall. He did it perhaps, as a reminder of the beauty of life.
James posted the image on facebook, twitter and instagram. Comments were surprising. ” Beautiful wall painting.” one said. Another posted, “You bring ray of hope.”
He realized that his artistic expression had morphed into something great. Over a period of three months, he painted 15 portraits, on walls of remaining buildings.
Outside one house, he found a photo of a seven years girl child painting on the wall. He painted a mural of her on the lone wall of her home.
“It says that life was here and that life can continue to be here.” James said to Philip.
The portrait had special meaning for the residents. “She used to play few metres away from where the mural was painted. “She would constantly be playing in the mud.” the girl’s father said. The girl and his father came to admire the painting.
James’s work became a movement and got public attention. He travelled the world for painting murals in many different places of the world like orphanage in Canada, youth ministry in Germany and non-government organizations in Brazil and UK.
Ironically, his first painting on the wall existed only for few months. A bulldozer knocked down the wall. “Life is returning again in our city.” Philip said to James.
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