Tag Archives: U.N.

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 www.unartforpeace.org.

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 www.azarts.gov. 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


Refugee tales

While driving through a parking lot Tuesday morning, I spied a small delivery truck with colorful faces painted on two sides — along with the words “Welcome to America.” This is one of those moments my children dread, because they know two things are about to happen. First, I’m going to whip out my camera. And second, I’m going to go in search of the artist. What I call serendipitous, they consider strange.

Jennifer might have felt differently about this encounter, because I ended up introducing myself to a man who was walking towards the truck — only to discover he’s the driver for an organization called The Welcome to America Project, which delivers donated furniture and other household goods to refugees who have recently located to the Phoenix area.

Turns out there’s a United Nations connection that would fascinate Jennifer, an ASU student in cultural anthroplogy who dreams of working for the U.N. one day. There’s a 9/11 connection too — because The Welcome to America Project was started by Phil and Carolyn Manning after Phil’s brother Terence Manning lost his life in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center.

Seems the Mannings were searching for a way to honor his memory by making a positive difference in the community when they saw the photo of a political refugee family from Afghanistan on a local news report. Each “realized this family sought the same things they did – safety, housing and a future free of fear for their children.” Soon they were collecting clothing and household items on the family’s behalf.

To date, their non-profit organization (described by the truck driver I met as a “mom and pop” operation) has engaged thousands of volunteers in helping 1,200 refugee families. This week they’re scheduled to assist two families originally from Bhutan who lived for many years in Nepal before coming to America, plus a single woman from Sri Lanka who survived a bombing that killed her brother and father.

The Welcome to America Project also holds special events that raise funds for aiding refugees. Last year’s “prom” had a Broadway musical theme, so I’m eager to see what they come up with for the 2012 version, taking place April 21 at the St.  Patrick’s Catholic Community Center in Scottsdale.

They’re kicking off a 2012 Cultural Dinner Series this Sun, March 11, with “A Night in Havana” at Orangewood Church in Phoenix. The event is “is designed to give Phoenix residents a rare glimpse into the complex history and culture of Cuba.” Think “dance performances, poems, cuisine, colorful clothing and firsthand accounts of the struggles and strength of Cuban refugees building new lives here in Arizona.”

Tuesday’s encounter with Jack Bigus (whose business card simply reads “driver”) reinforces a philosophy I’ve long embraced while exploring Arizona arts and culture — Follow the art, Follow your heart.

— Lynn

Note: Click here for information on refugees to the United States from the Cultural Orientation Resource Center

Coming up: More NYC travels

Pondering peace

I was struck, while listening to President Obama deliver a speech today to a gathering of United Nations members in New York City, by several of his remarks about furthering peace and justice in the world.

Our conscience calls on us to act. Our common humanity is at stake. Peace is hard, but we know that it is possible. Together let us make peace…but a peace that will last.

It reminded me of quotes I’d pondered earlier this year at the Arizona Museum for Youth in Mesa, which are pictured throughout this post.

Parents looking for ways to promote peace, which always starts at home, are getting a little help from Phoenix Theatre’s Cookie Company — which presents a work titled “Peacemaker” Feb 11-26, 2012 at Greasepaint Youtheatre in Scottsdale.

Phoenix Theater offers this description of the work…

The Blues and the Reds have lived on either side of the Wall for decades. Interaction is forbidden, and both communities live in an atmosphere of fear, suspicion, and mistrust. But when circumstances allow Simp, a Red, to meet Bluey, they learn that their similarities far outweigh the differences.

“Peacemaker” — which is full of clowning, juggling and physical storytelling — is meant to promote acceptance, empathy and friendship.

The United Nations reports that “an International Day of Peace was established in 1981 by resolution 36/67 of the United Nations General Assembly to coincide with its opening session, which was held annually on the third Tuesday of September.”

“The first Peace Day,” they add, “was observed in September 1982. In 2001, the General Assembly by unanimous vote adopted resolution 55/282, which established 21 September as an annual day of non-violence and cease-fire. The UN invites all nations and people to honour a cessation of hostilities during the Day, and to otherwise commemorate the Day through education and public awareness on issues related to peace.”

An art exhibit featuring photos of NYC children who hail from every country on the planet opened today at Park51 in Lower Manhattan. The Kickstarter-funded exhibit features the work of David Goldfield, which I hope to explore while visiting Lizabeth next month for Pace University’s homecoming weekend.

We pay attention to peace for a lot of reasons at our house, including the fact that our daughter Jennifer hopes to work at the United Nations one day. She’s an ASU student studying cultural anthropology whose current classes focus on human disease, religions of the world, and Holocaust history and the media.

For ideas on promoting peace in homes, schools, communities and beyond, visit the “International Day of Peace” website at www.internationaldayofpeace.org.

— Lynn

Note: You’ll find Arizona Museum for Youth at www.arizonamuseumforyouth.com, Phoenix Theatre’s Cookie Company at www.cookiecompany.org, Park51 at www.park51.org and the United Nations at www.un.org.

Coming up: Making peace with a purple plastic purse