Thai Orphans Rendered as Beautiful Cardboard-Cutout Street Art
Street artist Michael Williams has traveled to 13 different countries to make work about children who are homeless and on the streets.
I've been making street art since 2009 and have traveled to 13 countries to focus on children who are homeless and living on the street. I make cardboard cutouts that I mount to walls with high tack mounting tape or propped up as stand alone pieces. If no one removes them from the streets, the pieces will decay and be destroyed by the harsh environment. If someone does take it, then they can keep it in their home. If it survives, there is hope for them to continue on as pieces of art, just like there is hope for the actual homeless and street kids.
During my last trip to Asia I stayed in an orphanage in northern Thailand and got to know the kids there. I spent two months with them, listening to their stories, and then I represented these young people in this body of my recent work.
The most memorable stories were of two children named Chai and Lee, who were so malnourished that their little stomachs were swollen when they first came to the orphanage. To get food they would steal the offerings to Buddha in their tribal villages. With this money they would buy snacks, since the only thing they had to eat was white rice, which has hardly any nutritional value.
The piece with the arrows (below) is about how Chai had a lot of things in life thrown at him, trying to destroy him, but instead, he focused on the beauty in life. The main thing I learned from this trip is that children find beauty and can reveal it to the rest of us.