Oct 19

How Zymir found a job, a mentor, and a family

by: Carly Rapaport-Stein

My name is Zymir and I’m 25. Before I got into this program, I was in a lot of trouble. A troubled kid in the streets, who didn’t know the means of working and stuff like that. I started with Mural Arts two years ago. When I first came to the program I was real nonchalant about it because we were in a classroom setting and I thought it was just going to be doodling on paper. After about a week or so, I got out and we started hitting the walls and scaffold training, and I got real interested in it.

Zymir works on Frequencies, a mural designed by Ben Volta. Photo by Steve Weinik.

When the program was over, the staff came up with a way for me to continue to work with artist Ben Volta, and they saw I was serious about the program. They found other funding and got me in longer than the six month program – I spent almost a year working with murals.  I’ve also been in side projects with Ben as an art assistant. One of the biggest projects we accomplished together was the project that he did last year and it went over in Alaska. I’ve never been to Alaska. I mean, me being on probation and feeling like I can’t get out anywhere, I helped with art that’s somewhere else. I feel like somebody is getting to enjoy it and I’m just happy about that.

Bloom (installation), September 7, 2016. Photo by Steve Weinik.

I didn’t take this as a side job, I love to be a part of Mural Arts because of the fascinating things that I’ve seen them do and create. I worked with Ben all of last year and this year and it was an amazing experience to get to be around Ben. There’s so much life he gives into the room. I talk to him on the regular, he’s the one I confide in, and I look to Ben as a mentor, even though he’s not that much older than me.

Zymir gets to work on a wall. Photo by Steve Weinik.

I changed a whole lot at Mural Arts. I calmed down a whole lot. I had anger problems and stuff like that. I got to work through a lot of things with these people. I had bad days here and there, but they comforted me. They made my day either go better, or they let me be by myself and work through the issue on my own. But mostly, I didn’t have time to be angry, I didn’t have time to dwell on when I’m going to get a meal or how I’m going to feed my children cause they provided that for me, and if somebody is helping me, I will help them too. I stayed and did extra hours and worked for free because that’s what I like to do. It’s not just the fact that I like to work. I just like being around these people.

From Mural Arts I got other jobs. Now I’m a chef at a four star restaurant, so I just like to keep doing what I’m doing and these guys help motivate me. Ms. Robyn, Will, Dawan, Ben, they came to the restaurant and sit down to eat, they came to see me cook at the restaurant, and this was even after I got through Mural Arts.

Zymir stands in front of Bloom. Photo by Steve Weinik.

I’m big on cooking and I’m big on art, and they go hand in hand. Like plating. People eat with their eyes before they eat with their mouth. When you sit that plate down in front of them and it’s not looking a certain way, you’re not gonna eat it. You gotta humble yourself in the kitchen, cause the only thing you’re doing is taking orders. There’s no ‘no’ or you don’t want to do it, it’s all yes sir, yes chef. And Mural Arts helped me learn to be humble. The only fact that I didn’t like about Mural Arts is how I had to come to be in Mural Arts. I had to go through the system and be in trouble and be on probation to get these nice people, these loving people who run the Guild program. They’re not like bosses to me, they’re my family. They helped me when I was struggling. Now I’m not struggling, I’m in a better place, a better environment, but they still call me. They still check in on me, come through the restaurant, come show love. I can’t ask for anything else.

The only fact that I didn’t like about Mural Arts is how I had to come to be in Mural Arts. I had to go through the system and be in trouble and be on probation to get these nice people, these loving people who run the Guild program.

- Zymir, Guild Graduate

And I am proud. I am proud of myself, because these murals last for 10, 20 years. My kids have been to dedications, have been out here to see my work. When you see this type of stuff, it makes you feel at peace because you contributed something to the community. You made things look a little better. You can’t walk past this and not look at it, because the art is beautiful. The time and development it took to do this was beautiful, and I’m glad I was a part of it.

 

Zymir is a graduate of Mural Arts’ Guild program. You can see his work across the city in murals like Home That Was, Frequencies, and Bloom. Celebrate Zymir’s work and the work of the Restorative Justice program on Monday, as we dedicate Bloom

Last updated: Oct 21, 2016

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