On most streets in Achrafieh, you’ll find nestled between shops and apartments a set of steep, grey and tarnished stairways connecting the area’s neighborhoods. But thanks to a new project, a few of those dull, demanding stairs are now exploding with color.
Dihzahyners started out as a group of 12 friends in their early 20s, who attended the same university – the Lebanese American University of Beirut – most of them majoring in Graphic Design.
After stumbling across the work of German artist and professor Horst Gläsker [who designed and executed a stairway painting in Wuppertal, Germany entitled “Scala,”] the Dihzahyners got inspired. They decided to give it a try and bring street art to Beirut stairs.
“We did it for fun,” said one of the Dihzahyners about their first project, a flight of stairs in Beirut’s Sakiet el-Janzeer. Each of the 12 Dihzahyners chipped in and bought painting supplies and at 6:00 a.m. the next day they started painting.
“Passersby offered to help; a lady even asked us to paint some steps in her favorite color, fuchsia,” said a member of the Dihzahyners crew, who chose to remain anonymous because they consider teamwork to be more important than individual voices.
After the success of their Sakiet el-Janzeer project, the crew decided that it was time to do something they different. They ended up painting a piano pattern on a stairwell on Bliss Street in Hamra.
“Fifteen people showed up to help us paint the stairs in Bliss Street [next to the International College],” said the Dihzahyners, stressing on the duration of their work: seven hours.
One month after their second venture, the team chose to take on a new and even bigger challenge: a mosaic pattern on old, broken-down stairs in Beirut’s Mar Mikhail neighborhood.
“Mar Mikhail is our biggest project so far: twenty people contributed and it took almost an entire day to complete. People stopped, took pictures, offered to help and congratulated us,” said the Dihzahyners.
Ever since their first project in April 2012, the crew decided to share one of their creations with Beirut’s citizens each month and so far they have kept their promise without stirring the wrath of local authorities.
“All the stairways that we have painted so far were very old, grey and chipped; we didn’t think anyone would mind if we brought a little color to some neighborhoods.”
“When we were painting the staircase in Sakiet el-Janzeer a policeman stopped by, asked us what we were doing, approved of it and was on his way.”
Firm believers in the theory that colors can influence one’s mood, the Dihzahyners chose bright, cheerful colors to perk up the citizens of Beirut and distract their attention from daily politics.
“It’s all about politics in [Lebanon] and we think people are tired; I know we are,” said the team, stressing the fact that their urban art creations are done simply for the sake of art. “We keep our political or religious opinions to ourselves; we never criticized anybody and we never will.”
For their fourth project, the Dihzahyners are preparing a large scale surprise for the citizens of Beirut.
“A lot of people have expressed their wish to paint with us, so we thought to make our next project a public one… anyone can pitch in,” the crew said without revealing any details, but adding that they are expecting a big turnout.
In a little bit under four months the Dihzahyners have managed to make Beirut a tad more colorful and paint a smile on its citizens’ faces by distracting them from the hustle and bustle of the daily grind, even if only for a minute.
You can find out more about the Dihzahyners by joining their Facebook page called “Paint Up.” Their Volume 4 project kicks off on Monday, August 20 at 8:00 a.m. For more details, click here.