Joel Bergner is a muralist, street artist, and educator who travels the world working on social action projects. He uses his artistic skills to work with at risk youth, refugees, and communities to heal and help change their environments for the better. His most recent project was working in a Syrian refugee camp in Za'atari, Jordan. While I was filming the graffiti artist Wise Two in Brooklyn, in September, Joel Bergner—a friend and colleague of Wise Two—stopped by to see the progress he was making on his wall. Joel introduced himself to me and told me about all of the amazing projects he has worked on around the world. He also showed me some of his work. I was very impressed with both his art and his social action projects, and so I asked Joel if it was possible if I could interview him, and also film him working. Joel was kind enough to let me do both. He also gave me a lot of the footage and photographs from the projects he had worked on, which I incoporated into the video below.
I've spent a lot of time getting to know Joel, and there's a lot he has told me about the challenges he faces as a social action muralist. One of them is getting ample funding for these projects. He told me recently:
"I think the main issue with funding is that often a grant or sponsorship is small and is therefore only for one, relatively small-scale project, as opposed to ongoing funding streams that would allow for long-term initiatives that would result in a more transformational experience for the youth and communities involved. So my goal now is to find that kind of long-term funding sources and develop some of these projects into sustainable programs that would involve local artists and educators so that they'll continue and grow, even when I'm not there."
Graffiti, Street Art, Syria