By Alyssa Davanzo
Paul Wislotski spent 11 hours of his Tuesday outside of 7-Eleven in Storrs Center, sitting proudly beside a box of used oil pastels and a stretched white bed sheet filled with drawings of animals, autumn leaves and sunshine. As a UConn student walks up to the van, Paul hands him a blue pastel and encourages him to be creative.
“Now I do have some guidelines…please, no writing, no peace signs, ying-yangs, crosses or Jewish stars, nothing like that. Don’t get big, don’t cover nobody, but you can add to people’s. If you want to add a mountain to the background up here – feel free!”
Paul is a collective artist and Christian missionary. Passionate about traveling and bringing people together, he has set out on a journey to visit two college campuses in all 50 states in order for college students to take part in “one of the greatest collective art collections on earth.
His mission is for the youth of America to shape to world by creating heirlooms that they could cherish with their families for years down the road.
“This is just a bed sheet. The next time you have a family reunion, a birthday party, an anniversary, the holidays are coming up – where you get a lot of family? Put a sheet out there with some You get some pastels together and say ‘Come on family! Let’s go together! Let’s do something creative together!'”
His dedication to form bonds between those around them through vibrant pastel drawings was ignited when he attended the 20th reunion of Woodstock in 1989. Among a crowd of 80,000 people, Paul set up blank tarps for three days in a row and allowed the people he met to fill them with paintings.
After attending Woodstock, Paul decided to leave his home in Florida to hitchhike to every state capital and create collective art pieces with the people who he met in each location. After three years of traveling across the country, Paul completed his last art piece in 2002 in Hawaii. Along the way, Paul claims to have found God.
“I have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. A one-on-one relationship. The key to Christianity is to have that personal relationship with God through Jesus so the other 6 days you’re not in church, you’re still with him,” Paul said.
Through his faith, Paul travels across the country with the hope that he will never find himself in trouble because God is watching over him.
“He’s always there to lift my spirits. He’s always there to lift me. When I’m feeling down, people aren’t drawing, I just know that down the road, he’ll provide the one person to spark me again and keep me moving forward.
Paul considers himself to be the conductor of his art symphony, believing that America’s young generations have the power to alter the disconnection between the people of the world, Paul is determined to drive for as many years as possible to complete the project.
“The rest of the world looks at America’s youth to lead them. They look at them, whether it’s hairstyles, clothing styles, you name it. They look for American to lead them. And you’ve got to show them that you can bring family back together.”
UConn senior Chris Daub took part in Paul’s art symphony. Although he was at first intimidated by Paul’s “spunky” personality, he says that Paul was accepted on campus.
“I feel like at UConn, there’s just a lot more respect from the student body for visitors even if they have these crazy views, and even if some of the students are bothered by them, they don’t tend to show it,” Daub said. “So I really feel like he really got the amount of respect he deserved, especially considering his background.”
After collecting the bed sheet canvases, Paul says that he may try to send the art pieces to marines overseas. Although he travels by himself, Paul says that he wouldn’t want to make the journey in any other way.
“I have an ingrown sense in my heart, in my whole being, that I’m never alone, and I’m always loved,” Paul said. “Those two…you can’t do better than that…you can’t do better.”
(Featured Photo by Ryan King)