Given her surname’s similarity to ‘dobbin’, the English slang word for ‘workhorse’, it’s no surprise to note that the half-American, half-Danish artist Maria Dubin is firstly no slouch herself, and secondly best known in the art world for her depictions of seahorses – for the time being!
Dubin is on a mission. Following a visit to the Kongelunden asylum centre in Dragør last year, she has been busy decorating its walls – not in a paint and decorate fashion, but with art to uplift the lives of its residents.
For many, the centre’s four walls is all they see of the southern suburbs of Copenhagen, and Dubin felt there was “a desperate need” to beautify them to bring comfort to their lives. She has been busy since October and has already painted half the building.
Connecting the world
“I felt the strong need to participate actively,” Dubin told the Copenhagen Post Weekly.
“As I am a painter, it seemed very logical what I could offer. I think it is important to show respect, and this is the way I do it. I like to connect the world – this is why I am drawing.”
Up until this point, Dubin has funded her work with the support of Fiskafeen and the frame store Glarmester Per Lang, where she sold posters of seahorses to the people of Vanløse, the suburb where she lives.
To finish the job, she is enlisting the help of ten international artists to join her from July 31 to August 6, but to pay for their visit, she needs to raise funds via Kickstarter.
A place of beauty
The plan is to make the centre one of the most beautiful places in Denmark and the story of its renovation one that inspires others to help out during the refugee crisis.
A filmmaker and photographer will document the week, but none of this will be possible without funding the ARTUNITE project on Kickstarter.
The art has already had a huge impact on the refugees on the centre.
“David is a Chinese guy who has written poems inspired by the paintings, and we are going to write them on the wall – in Chinese, English and Arabic,” said Dubin.
“Art inspires people living there to tell other stories and to meet in other circumstances.”
Wonderful for kids
And for many, including the centre’s children, the art has helped them to regard Kongelunden as their home.
“The teachers at the kindergarten told me that the children were so touched by the drawings they are given a portfolio of the photos of the paintings, because it is their first home in Denmark and it comforts them,” said Dubin.
“Moreover, some of the kids go to kiss the rhinos in the morning when they go to school, as they feel protected by the images. They have become their friends and the art give them joy. That’s wonderful.”