Art for peace

I was pleasantly surprised, while visiting the United Nations Visitors Centre in NYC last week, to discover all sorts of artwork — quilts with a “women’s rights” theme, a giant wall mural featuring all sorts of animals, and photographs depicting the aftermath of Japan’s early 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The United Nations clealy understands the power of art to effect social change. Hence their call for artwork by youth on the theme of nuclear disarmament. The “Art for Peace Contest” is sponsored by the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs and the Harmony for Peace Foundation.

Detail of wall mural located in the children's section of the New York Public Library Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

The contest runs through April 30. Youth in all countries who are between 5 and 17 years of age can enter the contest. They can draw, paint, sketch, use pens, pencils, crayons, charcoal, oil, acrylic paint or watercolor to create their artwork. “Be creative,” say contest organizers. “Use your imagination to show a world free of nuclear weapons, a world without bombs, without wars, without fear.”

Participants are encouraged to watch a short film online before creating their own artwork based on the content of the film and the contest theme. Different films are available for different age groups. Films and entry details are available at

Artwork submitted for the contest is posted online so family, friends and others can share works via social media. Contest organizers note that “children between the ages of 5 and 12 will need to have their parents or teachers help them with their submissions.”

Detail of "Find a Cure" quilt by fifth grade students at Chapman Elementary School in Huntsville, Alabama

There will be four winners in each age category (ages 5-8, ages 9-12 and ages 13-17), and all entries will be judged using the same criteria: creativity, composition, theme and technique. The winners will be announced before the end of May.

For age groups 5-8 and 9-12, the winners will receive art supplies. For the 13-17 age group, there will be cash prizes of $500 for first place, $300 for second place, $200 for third place and $100 for fourth place.

Each winning entry will also receive a certificate from the United Nations and all winning artwork will be reproduced in a United Nations calendar. All artwork submitted must be original. Click here for full contest rules.

Lions Clubs International Poster for Peace 2010-11 merit award winner by Sheelam Arun Kumar of India

While buying stamps for my daughter Jennifer at the the U.N. Visitors Centre post office I overheard a gentleman ask about U.N. stamps issued in years past which featured artwork by winners of previous Lions Clubs International art contests for children. Seems Lions clubs hold a “Peace Poster Contest” each year, inviting children to submit artwork on a designated peace-related theme.

Students who will be 11, 12 or 13 years old on Nov. 15 can enter the 2012-13 contest, which features an “Imagine Peace” theme. Works can be submitted in a variety of mediums, including charcoal, crayon, pencil and pastel, and prizes will be awarded to 24 young artists. One grand prize winner will receive $5,000 and 23 merit award winners will receive $500. Click here for contest details, and here to see posters created by 24 grand prize winners from years past.

— Lynn

Note: To find calls for artwork and art contests for children within the state of Arizona, visit the Arizona Commission on the Arts at Click here for details on the 2012 Arizona Young Artists’ Competition (the deadline to enter is March 25).

Coming up: Art meets women’s rights, Remembering Mr. Rogers, Art in the North Valley


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