Walls that Unite: CITYArts Elicits Young Voices
A collaboration between the Fetzer Institute and a successful youth arts organization is helping to create murals and mosaics with youth. The painted walls inspire kids to connect creatively, while striving for peace.
CITYarts was founded in 1968 to bring young people together with professional artists to give them a voice to express themselves through art. In 1989, new Director Tsipi Ben-Haim re-founded CITYarts Workshop and it became CITYarts, Inc. She shifted the focus to youth involvement in transforming their communities by voicing their hopes for a better future.
To date, more than 280 projects have been created in collaboration with more than 200 schools, 500 artists, and 100,000 volunteers, while being led by professional artists. Now Fetzer is supporting a CITYarts effort to create a documentary film highlighting their “Young Minds Build Bridges” program.
This program was designed to connect youth around the world for peace following the tragic events of 9/11. The program aims to teach young people from around the world to express their ideas of peace, love, tolerance, forgiveness and respect for one another through art, no matter what culture or country they come from. The program includes Pieces for Peace workshops, in which young people work together to visualize and create works of art that are featured on CITYarts mosaics, on CITYarts' website, and are included in a traveling exhibition. These walls inspire the creation of permanent Peace Walls in different cities across the globe. Five walls have been created so far.
The creation of these Peace Walls gives young people from very different backgrounds the opportunity to develop self-awareness and to consider what peace means to them. So far, more than 5,000 Pieces for Peace artworks have been created in 65 countries. All of the works can be viewed on the web, creating an online mosaic.
The documentary will feature footage of the creative process of these Peace Walls in New York City, Pakistan, Israel, London, and especially Berlin, Germany.
Fetzer Advisory Council member Tshering Gyaltshen Penjor says the documentary “will be an inspirational film demonstrating that young people believe that love and forgiveness between people of very different cultures and regions of extreme conflict is possible.”
Adds CITYarts Director Tsipi Ben-Haim: "When kids create, they don't destroy."
This is a project of the Fetzer Advisory Committee on the Education Professions.