MILWAUKEE — The possibilities are endless when Ben Spark gets ahold of spray paint and a ladder. He’s had a passion for art since he was a kid, but for the past 15 years, Ben has shared his creativity with other countries.
“I met this teacher. She said, ‘You could paint at my school,”’ said Spark. “I never thought about painting a school. I went down there, in central Mexico. It was awesome, and I loved doing it. I said, ‘Let’s do this,’ and it has been going ever since.”
That’s when he created Painting it Forward.
“The whole concept is to do work here in the Milwaukee-area and then the funds that are generated from that work [are used to] paint schools around the world that have limited-to-no resources,” he said.
The schools he paints would not otherwise be able to afford something like this. Spark has traveled around Central and South America, as well as southeast Asia.
“It’s going to have cultural significance to that particular area and that immediate area of the neighborhood or what have you,” said Spark.
He said not only are the locals appreciative of the pop of color, but they have been happy to see the representation of their respective cultures.
“The kids are so happy, super excited. They want to know who we are, where we’ve came from,” said Spark. “It’s always very reinforcing to who I’ve traveled with.”
While Painting it Forward is for other people, Spark said it leaves a mark on him.
“It’s unfathomable at times, about how much we have, but you don’t realize it until you don’t have it,” said Spark.
He tries to get overseas a couple times a year and in the next month he’ll be traveling to Cambodia with another local artist to spark creativity for those who need it the most.