The potential of Street Art – Connecting and Inspiring Communities

In March 2024, French street artist Seth Globepainter and New York photography icon Martha Cooper teamed up for a special project in Lwala, Western Kenya. They were there to visit and support “Nyota,” a charity project dedicated to empowering the local community through educational projects for children and youth. Nyota runs a daycare center for orphans on weekdays and enhances the local food supply with organic farming, permaculture, and free training for local small scale farmers. The idea of integrating art into Nyota’s activities had been considered before but never materialized, making Seth’s proposal highly anticipated. Known for his child-like, figurative motifs, Seth’s art style was deemed a perfect match for an organization focused on aiding children, including those who are traumatized.

Seth Globepainter and Martha Cooper in Kenya

„Reconstruction“, Seth Globepainter, 2024, Nyota Day Care Centre Lwala, Kenya; Foto © Alexander Krziwanie / MontanaCans

Seth Globepainter working on the Mural for Nyota’s Day Care Centre Lwala, Kenya; Foto © Alexander Krziwanie / MontanaCans

Seth Globepainter „Valentine in the Wind” Lwala-Primary school, Kenya; photography © Sören Gerhold / StadtWandKunst

How the Project Started

The origins of this unique project trace back to when Seth was painting a mural in Mannheim, Germany, in 2020, as part of Montana Cans’ collaborative project, “Stadt.Wand.Kunst.” It was during this time that he first learned about the Nyota initiative in Kenya and felt a strong desire to contribute by painting there. By the end of 2023, Seth and Martha Cooper, having previously worked together in Haiti (read here) and Tahiti , began organizing their trip to East Africa. Martha Cooper is renowned for her long-standing commitment to capturing graffiti and street art culture. Her significant contributions to the art world, especially her co-authored book “Subway Art” with Henry Chalfant, have documented the US graffiti scene of the 1970s. She was eager to accompany Seth to Kenya, not only to document the project through her lens but also to delve into the local youth culture, observing and capturing how they create toys and engage in play. Her book “Street Play” provided a vivid snapshot of kids playing in the streets of New York during the 1970s.

left: “L’École Buissonnière”, SETH, 2010, M6, 12, 68161 Mannheim, Stadt.Wand.Kunst; right: Martha Cooper stood in front of some of her famous photographs during the release of the Montana Cans ICONIC Series in 2016. This event took place in Berlin at the URBAN NATION Museum, celebrating her contributions to the world of street art photography

Art and Inspiration in Lwala

Once they arrived in Lwala, located in Kenya’s west, Seth Globepainter started painting the walls of the Nyota Day Care Centre and the nearby Lwala Primary School. Malland thoroughly engaged with the culture and history of the Luo people beforehand to identify unifying elements and incorporate them into his murals, alongside Kenyan students. On the grounds of the Nyota daycare center, he created a mural titled “Reconstruction.” His murals brought color and life to the centre and school, giving the children and the community beautiful art to enjoy every day, also being part of it.

Seth Globepainter / Nyota Day Care Centre, Lwala, Kenya; photos by © Martha Cooper

Martha Cooper took photos of the whole process, capturing the impact of the art on the community. Her pictures show more than just the murals; they show how art can bring joy and inspiration. A full feature on her series can be found on Brooklyn Street Art

During the project, Martha Cooper celebrated her 81st birthday with the Nyota team in Kenya. Incredible! 81 years and still so active, Congratulations Martha!

Playing football with the Children at Nyota © Martha Cooper; Treeplaning at the Nyota Kita Garden © Martha Cooper; Nyota project manager Wyclife with team and children and guests © Martha Cooper; Eva and Daddo Omutitii with Martha Cooper and signed Hip Hop files print – Thanks to Eva’s Art Supplies in Nairobi for the support, Asante Sana!

Working Together for a Better Tomorrow

This project in Kenya marks another successful collaboration between Seth Globepainter and Martha Cooper, whose combined efforts have once again showcased the transformative power of art. Their work in Lwala goes beyond; it’s a testament to the role of art in community development and the nurturing of young minds. For Montana Cans, supporting this project has been an honor, embodying our commitment to not just the art community but also to initiatives that make a real difference in the world. Seth Globepainter and Martha Cooper’s journey to Kenya is a vivid reminder of the potential of art to connect and to inspire. It’s a story we’re proud to share—a story of color, hope, and the endless possibilities that emerge when artists come together for a cause greater than themselves.

Seth Globepainter working at Lwala Primary School; photography ©Alexander Krziwanie, Valentine Otieno

Seth Globepainter working at Lwala Primary School, Kenya, 2024; photo: Sören Gerhold © Stadt.Wand.Kunst

The Nyota Project in Kenya has been supported by Montana Cans for over 15 years and is actively accompanied by its team members. Montana’s on-site engagement is part of its CSR program, focusing on education, food security, and the environment. This is in addition to the annual support of dozens of events and hundreds of artists worldwide.

Seth Globepainter, Lwala-Primary school, Kenya 2024; photography © Alexander Krziwanie / MontanaCans

To support the work of Nyota for Children, you can make a contribution here – any help is highly appreciated