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rlevitow January 28, 2010 No Comments

news from AMP: Artists Meeting Place and Resource Collective

Guidance - Robin Ross
ART / PEACE
AMP Newsletter January 2010

In This Issue
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above: Guidance by Robin Ross

"Peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of creative alternatives for responding to conflict — alternatives to passive or aggressive responses, alternatives to violence."
Dorothy Thompson

Is peace an action, or the absence of action? Is it a choice, or the lack thereof? When faced with the frustrations and injustices of everyday life, a peaceful response may in fact be a more conscious and deliberate choice than the impulsive reactions of retaliation and violence.

The traditional role of the newsletter is to report the news. If you want to find out the news about AMP, you can go to the AMP website, where calls for submissions, employment announcements, and member art are posted on a daily basis; you can still post your own for free. As always, you can contact AMP's over 3800 members in 85 countries when you login to the website, as well as access the growing World Art Directory, the extensive list of links to international art news, and various other resources. The website is currently in the midst of a redesigning and reorganization, which will hopefully make everything much easier (and better looking) to navigate, and the website already features a gorgeous piece of signature AMP art, courtesy of AMPer Matthew Freeth.

But for this "newsletter," it somehow seems more appropriate and sensible to explore the relationship between art and peace, which comes in many forms: conceptual, poetic, therapeutic, and many more. Read on…

Andrew Crummy

" We can either react in fear or anger to the state of our world, thus becoming part of the problem, or respond creatively and become part of the solution."

Born in Craigmillar, one of the poorest areas of Scotland, and introduced to the arts through the Craigmillar Festival Society, Andrew Crummy's childhood memories are of festivals, drama, music, clowns, colour and laughter. Trained as an illustrator, Andrew's professional life started off working for such publications as the New Musical Express and The Observer, but developed into large scale, collaborative artworks in public and community settings. In 1995 Andrew, his mother, and many others in Craigmillar set up The Communiversity, aiming to to raise awareness of the artistic and cultural tradition of Craigmillar and its worldwide network. Since then Andrew has created over 70 large scale artworks worldwide, and even received an honorary doctorate degree for his work in 2006. See some of Andrew's workhere.

The Craigmillar Festival was, in effect, founded by Andrew's mother Helen, who would not accept the local school district's refusal to invest in children's music lessons. In the process of building a community "that cared and shared" the Craigmillar community found that art was the key catalyst of success. By 2006, the internationally renowned Craigmillar Festival was the largest employer in the area, dealing with social welfare, housing, employment, arts, planning, and more. Now involving a community of around 17,000 people, the Craigmillar Festival spawned the rapidly growing World Community Arts Day in 2006.

Andrew welcomes you to come and join the party on February 17, 2010, the 4th World Community Arts Day, where "Art is a catalyst for caring and sharing". The simple request is that you be creative on this day.

VPP street flowers

The Valentine Peace Project is AMP's 2010 entry to World Community Arts Day. Created by AMPer Federico Hewson, the Valentine Peace Project began as a small Los Angeles community initiative in 2005, and has since spread to many other cities. The Project aims to build a Valentine season for the beginning of the year, as well as expand the definition of the traditional Valentine's Day, February 14th, to include peace and explore the multifaceted dimensions of love. 

Valentine's Day can be more expansive, fun, and loving if you join in and share a favorite poem that you think will inspire others, or perhaps write one yourself, or even print one out from the project's website. When you have the poem in print, wrap it around a flower stem, tie it with a ribbon, and give the flower away. Hand out poems and flowers in your community. Have a poetry reading. Visit the VPP website and download some ideas to start a workshop conversation. Write an origami poem to leave on the bus or at a bookstore. Invent your own creative ways to spread a little love and peace this February and beyond.

An event will be held in Los Angeles at Avenue 50 Studio in Highland Park on Saturday, February 6, 2010 from 7 to 10 pm – get more news here

Submit your peace poem to info@valentinepeaceproject.org, and check out the Valentine Peace Project website for updates, news and ideas to re-imagine Valentine's day.

No matter what the content of the project, it seems that most art / peace projects aim to touch an international audience. Other international conceptual art projects include the Global Art Project, an international art exchange for peace, and the whimsical Pinwheels for Peace, which exhorts potential participants to create their own pinwheels, adorn them with art and statements about peace, and display them on September 21st, the International Day of Peace.

And it's always illuminating to check out what the legendary artist, musician, and peace activist Yoko Ono is doing atImaginePeace.com. Read on – Yoko is still ahead of her time (but we're trying to catch up).

Poetry seems a natural fit for conveying – and creating – a message of peace. The sweet work of Poems for Peace and The Peace Poem Project aims to do just that.

Poems for Peace is a poetry exchange between youth worldwide. Establishing connections through sharing ideas, hopes, and fears in poetry, their mission is to provide an opportunity to discover similarities, embrace differences, develop compassion, and transcend racial, religious, and socio-economic prejudice so that people can unite on a deeper level. As they say on their website, "ignorance breeds prejudice, apathy and fear; knowledge breeds compassion. When we know, we care." Thus far, Poems for Peace has gathered poems from young people in Australia, Canada, China, Vietnam, India, Russia, Romania, and 10 other countries. Do you know someone who would like to contribute?

And the Peace Poem Project is working to create a worldwide peace poem. From their website, "we believe that violence in daily life influences the way our children think and behave, and we should spend time directing them and ourselves toward peaceful thoughts and behavior. The Peace Poem is a personal meditation, a creative act of good will. Take a moment to gather your thoughts about peace with the Peace Poem. The intent is to encourage the inclination and importance of every individual in contributing to this worldwide affirmation of the human spirit."

Email two lines of poetry to the Peace Poem Project, and you'll be in the company of people in 70 different languages – including Willie Nelson and Arlo Guthrie.

Strawberry

Where Peace Lives is a non-profit art therapy organization that works directly with students to prevent school violence and bullying. The group helps students create a mural about preserving peace, while also working with the students to develop conflict negotiation and anger management skills. After the mural is created, it is shipped off and exchanged for a mural from a sister school. This creates opportunities not only to make a connection with other students and learn about cultures, but also to see how visions and ideals of peace can vary in other locations. Results have been impressive, with students learning self-expression, critical thinking, respect for others and many other abilities that build the foundation for a life-long interest in peace.

With its emphasis on exchange and continued efforts, the group's name is actually misleading. While it's true that peace lives there, a better description would be Where Peace Starts, before moving out in the world. The group is moving out into the world at an impressive rate – to date they have murals up or in progress in 10 different countries, as well as the support and cooperation of multiple international communities and programs. Visit their website to see the murals.

And thanks to Christine Hazy for telling me about Lauren Bon's Strawberry Flag project. In an effort to bring awareness to the challenges of returning soldiers and to share the historic significance of the Veteran's Administration grounds, Lauren and her team have been creating a living sculpture and hands-on experience in Los Angeles that includes veterans and the community at large. Bon has created and unfurled a Strawberry Flag comprised of reclaimed strawberry plants growing in an aquaponic system. The project is located on the Los Angeles Veteran's Administration, and uses outside resources brought in by the Metabolic Studio team — water from the LA River and solar power.

Strawberry Flag is in response to and in support of the enormous population of veterans, the largest in the U.S., who live in the greater Los Angeles area. LA veterans work on various aspects of Strawberry Flag which includes tending to the growth of the plants, harvesting, preserving and packaging the fruit. Veterans from the VA Compensated Work Therapy program and the VA Domiciliary, and other groups are instrumental with all parts of this project. Working side-by-side with the team from the Metabolic Studio and community volunteers, they work in a kitchen on campus assigned to Strawberry Flag, in the Flag print shop, and in the garden. Strawberries will be processed into "Veterans Preserves" and sold online to raise money for future veteran's projects.

Lauren Bon and her studio team focus on resources as part of her F.L.A.G. (Farm Lab Agricultural Garden) projects. This process creates habitats of living things in often difficult environments of historic relevance to the city of Los Angeles. Strawberry Flag joins three other Metabolic Studio projects, which together form a network of historical importance in mapping the biosphere that Los Angeles calls home. (from Strawberry Flag press release)

And here's another take on Strawberries for Peace.

Rose Garden Founders

Conceived as a catalyst for peace, theInternational World Peace Rose Gardensaim to create beautiful rose gardens for peace on public, accessible sites. The gardens serve as places of inspiration and magnets for community activities. Five major World Peace Rose Gardens have been created, including two in California (Pacific Palisades and Sacramento), and three more in Mexico City; Assisi, Italy; and Atlanta, Georgia.

Co-creators TJ David and Sylvia Villalobos are pictured above in one of their gardens.

And following the slogan that "Art Changes People – People Change the World!," Art for the Sky creates giant living paintings made of people. Hundreds of people at a time collaborate to create a living painting, bringing people together in a massive perspective-changing exercise which only make sense from high above. Spectacular pictures can be seen on their website.

MyPeace.tv is a social networking site that aims to help people connect to promote, talk about, and plan out peace using media. Take a moment to compare that with a more "traditional" networking site and you'll see why it's such a nice place to visit. Discussion topics range from down-to-earth practical, such as botox and tie-dyeing, to spiritual, such as prayer circles or yoga. Of particular interest is the site's blog page, where members post regularly on what they're doing and what they've seen. Many members use film as their medium of choice and upload their work on the site.

Like AMP, the group has almost 4,000 members from truly everywhere on earth – visiting the site, you quickly get the feeling that they could hold the world together if they just linked hands. However, by using art and the media they may turn out to have an even bigger impact.

Peace Symbol

Is it performance art to commit an act of peace? Why not? What is art, anyways? Can one act "artfully"? I'll say yes, and include One Thousand Acts of Peace in our Art / Peace roundup.

From their website, "What if we committed just three Acts of Peace a day, totaling over one thousand each year? How would it affect our lives and the lives of people we know? Would it change the way we see the world, and the world sees us? What would it mean at our workplaces, in our homes, to our world? And, once we started committing three Acts of Peace a day…could we ever stop?

"We are people who have decided to find out. We promise to commit One Thousand Acts of Peace each year – three a day – to become peacemakers in a very real, effective, and immediate way – in our own lives and in the lives of those around us. We will record these One Thousand Acts of Peace in a little notebook every day…both to remind us of our daily promise and to spur us on to become more and more creative in our peacemaking activities…and to develop the habit of peace."

These acts might include "making a phone call to someone who would like to hear from us…saying we're sorry if we've injured someone…letting go of a long-held grudge…working with a local organization dedicated to compassionate service…doing an unpleasant chore without complaining…apologizing to a person you realize you've offended…learning to compromise a little more and disagree a little less…reaching out to a family member who is estranged…if someone is in pain, doing what you can to lessen it…asking how you can help – then helping…calling someone who wants to hear from you…writing a long overdue thank you note…taking time to listen to someone who is sad or depressed (someday it will be you – if it isn't already)…cheering up a friend who is feeling low…"

"We believe that peace can only come into this world through our own personal efforts, day by day. The most empowering part of our Acts of Peace practice is that it frees us from having to wait for other people to create peace in our world – local and world leaders, politicians, governments. We know from experience that lasting peace does not come from cease-fires and peace treaties. It can only come when simple men, women and children decide to practice peace today, and every day….if every person int he world commits One Thousand Acts of Peace every year, instead of one thousand acts of violence, can you anticipate what might happen? Anger, hatred and even war could die out for lack of interest…And if we never try, if we never persistently practice peace, will we ever live to experience the outcome?…We invite you to join us in this effort – this hourly, daily, yearly passion for peace – this exuberant commitment to finally do something to make peace happen here and now, in our own immediate environment…We simply ask you to commit three intentional acts of peace a day, every day…and to jot them down in a few words. That's all. And that's everything."

Living in the scattered metropolis of Los Angeles, as I do, it's easy to cynically dismiss everyday efforts for art and peace as trivial. We shouldn't. The everyday is everything. The world is built on trivial gestures. The large is built on the small. Text 90999 to donate $10 to much-needed relief for Haiti, and you'll add to the over $15 million that's already been donated from the U.S. by text messages alone. 

Violence is easier to televise than peace, but that doesn't make it better or more important. It may not even be more prevalent.

Thank you to Elisabeth Friedeman, Federico Hewson, and Matthew Freeth for inspiration and contributions to this newsletter.

Stay tuned for news on our upcoming event on February 27 in San Francisco. If you'd like to volunteer, or have ideas for art, performance, and activities, email Terri at pluginamp@gmail.com.

 

Peace,

 

San Francisco T
Terri Anderson

AMP: Artists Meeting Place and Resource Collective


AMP: Artists Meeting Place and Resource Collective | P.O. Box 292198 | Los Angeles | CA | 90029

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