A young girl embraces the heart-shaped trunk of a tree that has been cut down. She clings to it as if willing it to live, but all is not lost: A green shoot has begun to curl from the stump. In the world of the painting, Nevergiveup, which now adorns a building at bustling intersection in the heart of Santiago, Chile, and in reality, both are as tall as the buildings that surround them.
In a phone interview with Creators Project, Italian muralist Millo, a.k.a., Francesco Camillo Giorgino, says he chose to paint Nevergiveup because the building is so centrally located. “I knew there was a possibility that a lot of people would see it so I wanted it to carry a message,” he explains. That message, he says, is about caring for the natural world and changing our relationship with the environment. He believes the message is universal and can be understood by everyone, even city dwellers.
Millo began his career as an architect, but, rather than design new structures, he has become better known for adorning buildings that already exist with paintings that remind us of the people who live in them. Buildings and the forces that build and tear them down can often seem bigger and more important than the individual human lives in a city. Despite their scale, his vignettes of mountain sized children at play in urban environments convey a feeling that the human spirit still matters. They seem to say to the viewer, “you can tower, too.”
“Even if we are abusing the Earth, with love and with passion and with changing our mindsets, it can get better. Only if we do it with our hearts, can we change the approach,” he says. Planning and using our minds can come later, the artist believes; first we have to feel. The title of the mural is meant to be encouraging. “The situation seems very bad, as if there is nothing we can do, but for me there is always hope. I see the situation in a positive way,” he insists. The child represents the next generation who have the power to make change.
There are a few more layers to this one. It could be read as being about hope in a broader sense. Millo's characters are children but they are also all of us and each one has a lot of Millo in them too. Nevergiveup had a personal and real life inspiration that came when its creator was in Norway this past summer visiting a very old park. He found the stump of an ancient tree in the shape of a heart and started dreaming up ways to use the image in a future piece. Not that it's all that important to appreciating the finished mural, though—“This is my story, but art can be interpreted by everyone. Everyone can create his own story around an art piece,” he says. In short, how you choose to read his message is up to you.
Nevergiveup was created as part of the Hecho en Casa street art festival and can be seen at the intersection of Augustinas and Mac-Iver in Santiago, Chile. Find out more about Hecho en Casa Fest and Millo on their websites.