You stroll into Alina Gallo’s “We Are Staying,” and it is as if you walked onto the streets of war-torn Syria. The first scene you see is a crumbling wall with striped tapestry hung purposely to disturb the sniper’s line of sight. Standing in the center of the room, you pan around and for a second, and you’re there in Syria. Gallo used a cartoony, mural style to portray something so real. It’s fascinating to see how she used an Andy Warhol style of painting; it lures you in and makes you want to know the whole story she’s telling. Everything is unkempt, the walls around you seem like they would crumble apart with the slightest touch. Pro- and anti-government Arabic graffiti messages cover the walls that are peppered with bullet holes, left behind from snipers. There are hidden messages within the mural. A shadow of a man walking away from the ruins suggests that people are fleeing their homes and lives. Two boys hide in the window of an abandoned home that is falling apart, hiding from the others lurking in the town.

It wasn’t always like this. At one point the buildings were intact, bullet holes didn’t riddle the walls, and the flipped over car ran. You can see that a town once bustling with people is now a ghost town, a mere shadow of what it was. The talented Gallo brings beauty to the horror depicted in her mural. Gallo spent two and a half weeks on this mural, hand-making all her paints out of egg yolk and earth tone dyes. This artistic mural was on display at the SPACE Gallery from May 26 to July 11, 2015.

Olivia Tighe, 13, is from Cape Elizabeth.

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