It was my first time going to the SPACE Gallery, and it will not be my last. Alina Gallo’s bold mural left a lasting impact on me that will continue to draw me to the gallery.

Gallo is an artist from Maine who, after graduating from college, visited the Middle East, specifically Dubai and Turkey. It was there that Gallo drew inspiration for her latest work, “We Are Staying,” which was displayed from May 26 to July 11 in the SPACE Gallery. Gallo spent two and a half weeks painting the mural on three adjacent walls using handmade egg tempera paint, and the result is striking. The painting depicts a city, and each section of the mural is based on a different photograph of war-torn Syria.

Neutral colors pair with bright, vibrant shades, creating a layered look that gives the painting depth. Though the paint lines are neat and clean, the border of the painting is jagged and sharp, which is symbolic of how broken many cities in the Middle East have become.

Many Arabic phrases cover the walls in the painting. Some are poetic, some hopeful, and some political. The most resonant images, however, are the recognizable ones, universal symbols that are known around the world. Many objects considered ordinary and harmless take on a new meaning when embedded in an area engaged in conflict, and they prompt gallery visitors to take a close look at the mural. A droopy Winnie the Pooh is painted next to the image of a gun, and the Twitter logo is portrayed as red and dripping with blood. The contrast of the lightheartedness of these two symbols and the violence of the way they are pictured causes the viewer to look twice.

Colorful, patterned shapes first appear to be regular sheets hanging out to dry. However, a brochure describing the exhibition reveals them to be linens hung out to confuse and distract snipers, so they do not hurt the people living within the bullet-hole ridden walls. A man lies peacefully, sleeping on a couch outside his home, yet there is so much destruction around him. These symbols and activities are so normal for many people living in stable countries around the world. While they allow viewers to connect to the painting, they take on a new, more violent light when placed in a landscape of destruction.

Gallo’s bold piece is a stunning, thought-provoking work of art, but it is also temporary. At the end of the exhibition, it will be painted over, creating a clean, blank canvas. In contrast, violence will continue in the Middle East and in other places around the world; we must work towards peace.

Calla Hladky, 14, is from Brunswick.

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