Colombian artist Edwin Gil invited residents of Medellin to help create a work of art commemorating Colombians who were forced to move abroad by the threat of violence in their native country.
The piece, which is a an enormous painting of the Colombian flag made up of 17,000 red, blue and yellow hand prints, is designed to represent the 17,000 Colombians currently living abroad.
“Each of the 17,000 hand prints and signatures that I collected so far is a story of hope and determination,” says the artist, who was forced to move from Colombia to the U.S. due to the violence of the 1980s and 1990s.
Gil describes that this work – which forms part of a patriotic artistic project named “Our flag, our country, our home” – is a symbol of peace and reconciliation. The hand print “represents a tool of unity and peace” between Colombians living inside and out of the country.
“This project changed my life,” said the artist, “but also created a positive change within the Colombian community and how we are seen around the world.”
Gil is one of the 8,500 Medellin natives that are ambassadors to the city, through the social and community program SOS Paisa.
The artist hopes that the flag will be permanently installed at the Museum of Memory in Medellin.