Art plays a vital role in society, as a powerful tool for expression, creativity, and social change. Art has many facets; it promotes unity and connects us with our culture and our community. It also has the power to inspire young people to think differently, break down prejudices and imagine a better future. Last year, the civil society organization “Futja Ngjyrë” – supported by the ReLOaD 2 program which is funded by the European Union in partnership with UNDP – launched a project called “Promaja”. The project aims to harness the power of art and embrace Mitrovica’s cultural heritage through all art forms. A pioneer in driving the art scene of Mitrovica, the CSO seeks to engage young people in the process of celebrating and preserving cultural identity through a series of workshops, murals, podcasts, and a documentary about Mitrovica’s cultural heritage. By bringing together artists, community leaders and young people, “Promaja” is not only creating beautiful murals around the city but creating a platform for young artists to showcase their skills and promote a sense of shared belonging.
Dea Gaxha, Futja Ngjyrë’s project manager explains that the project’s core message is to “Embrace our Culture” and create murals around the city that depict cultural elements and figures that truly represent Mitrovica. Through a series of mural-making workshops, the project has brought together young artists from all over Kosovo to help visualize the best artefacts of Mitrovica, a city rich in cultural heritage. Throughout the workshops, it has provided great opportunities for the young artists to collaborate, exchange ideas and techniques, and showcase their skills. For Dhurata Begolli – like many other young artists that took part in the workshops – this was the first time that she got the opportunity to paint a mural as there are not many organizations that provide these artistic outlets. The goal at the end of the workshops was to help artists sketch their murals that reflect their thoughts and ideas of what represents Mitrovica’s cultural heritage. All the artists who completed the six murals in Mitrovica were women from different backgrounds making the project a powerful example of the talent and creativity of women artists in Kosovo. Let’s meet the women behind the art!
The Muse and the Fisherman by Eliza Shala
Eliza is a 21-year-old artist who specializes in animation, sculpture, and illustration. She has painted the murals named “The Muse” and “The Fisherman”. Eliza’s work is centered around freedom of expression and exploring the depth of her feelings and emotions. Through her drawings, Eliza tells stories and perspectives of the people of Mitrovica – using her art to create a platform of exploration and expression.
Eliza describes that the inspiration behind “The Muse ” is drawn from the role of women in society, as they try to assert themselves and claim their own space without seeking permission from anyone. The artist says that the mural celebrates the beauty and perseverance of women in society. Ultimately, “The Muse” serves as a powerful reminder of the strength and resilience of women – in the past, present, and future.
The Fisherman mural is a collaborative effort between the artist and the Recreational Sport Fishermen’s Association “Ibri” Mitrovica, which is displayed in their facility. This mural showcases the prevalent fishing tradition of Mitrovica. This mural is not only meant to highlight the fishing tradition of Mitrovica but also aims to promote cooperation with other CSOs through this project.
Muharrem Qena by Dhurata Begollli and Arlinda Blakaj
Dhurata is a 21-year-old artist who is a student in the University of Arts in Pristina who specializes in multimedia, sculpture, and print. Arlinda Blakaj is a 32-year-old artist who specializes in painting and portraits. For both artists, this was the first time that they were given the opportunity to paint a mural and they worked together to sketch and paint the portrait of the renowned figure of Muharrem Qena. In the city of Mitrovica South now there is a mural of Muharrem Qena, who is known to be one of the most talented artists of his time and one of the most recognized symbols of the city.
MK-2 by Donjeta Haziri and Besmira
The mural artists have chosen to represent both the cultural and historical aspects of Mitrovica by incorporating two significant elements of the city’s heritage – The Miner’s Monument and the Golf 2 car. The Miner’s Monument is an important monument in the history of miners in Mitrovica, and it has great cultural and historical significance for the people of the city. The monument is a tribute to the hard work and sacrifice of the miners who helped build the city’s economy and contributed to its growth and development.
The Golf 2 car, on the other hand, represents a strong symbolism and belonging for the local communities and overall culture of Mitrovica. The Golf 2 is a popular car model in Kosovo and is often associated with the youth culture and car culture of the region. By including the car in the mural, the artists are recognizing the importance of this cultural piece in the daily lives of the people of Mitrovica.
ReLOaD 2 supported by the European Union in Kosovo and implemented by UNDP Kosovo
Story by Erita Deshishku
Photo credit: Arben Llapashtica
* For the European Union, all references to Kosovo should be understood in full compliance with Resolution 1244 (1999) and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence. For the United Nations, references to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).