What goes on at...Global Art Project for Peace

Katherine Josten set up Global Art Project for Peace in 1993, and has been running it ever since. We caught up with her to find out how they operate, what art can do for peace and how local communities can get involved.

What goes on at...Global Art Project for Peace

What happens at The Global Art Project for Peace?

The Global Art Project is an International Art Exchange for Peace that happens every two years. Anyone can participate!The mission of the Project is to joyously create a culture of peace through art. The Project celebrates diversity and multi-culturalism while expressing the idea: We Are All One.

Here's how it works: Participants create a work of art expressing their vision of global peace and goodwill. The art may be in any medium—visual or literary art, CDs/DVDs of music or performances, etc.—which can be sent via mail from one group or individual to another. Global Art Project then organizes an international exchange by matching participants—group-to-group and individual-to-individual. The exchange occurs April 23-30 biennially, resulting in thousands of people sending messages of Peace around the world at one time—visions of unity simultaneously encircle the Earth. The art is sent as a gift of global friendship and kept by the receiving artist or group.

Participants are encouraged to include a photo of themselves and a personal note. They're also encouraged to share their art with their local community before exchanging it with their GAP partner. After the exchange, many communities also exhibit the art that has been received. Participants may send documentation of the art created and of the people who came together to create the art to the GAP Art Bank. Global Art Project for Peace exhibitions, books, slide presentations, posters and our website give people an opportunity to experience visions of peace and unity created by individuals from diverse cultures around the world. It's an opportunity for people to add their energy to the collective energy for peace and goodwill.

130,000 participants in 85 countries on seven continents have created art for the exchange!

When was it set up, and what prompted it?

I received the inspiration in 1991 and began working full-time on setting it up in 1993. It took two years to hone it down so the Project would be simple enough that anyone, anywhere could participate and yet profound enough to express the idea We Are All One. The first exchange was in 1994. I had been creating a large installation of art titled Origins which involved my poetry, painting and sculpture that all work together as a whole. After creating and exhibiting Origins for twelve years, I received the inspiration to take the idea expressed in Origins and do something to make this idea real in the world. I felt that if we are all one…then all the people around the world who are creating art for peace are an extension of myself and my art out into the world.

3,600 people in nineteen countries participated in the first exchange. I was only planning to do the exchange once—but after the first exchange many artists wrote to me saying they wanted me to do it again and if I did, they wanted to help spread the word in their area. So it's become a biennial event—happening every two years—for over twenty years! And we now have about 200 Regional Coordinators around the world helping to spread the word in their area.

Why do you think art is such a successful messenger for peace?

Art is created from the core of our being—that ever-wise center. When art is shared, that wisdom resonates with the core of the audience and puts them in touch with their own center of wisdom. In that center, all is at peace. Just imagine the power of so many thousands of people around the world simultaneously creating and exchanging art for peace—sending waves of inspiration around the world! As a global community we have tremendous power as we work together to create our visions of wholeness and peace.

Do you think visual art is more open to bridge nationalities than say theatre or music?

No, I think all art forms are equally able to bridge nationalities. Which is why Global Art Project for Peace participants may create art expressing peace in any art form for the exchange. The art just needs to be in a form that can be mailed to another person or group. We've had participants create and send poetry, prose, handmade clothing and jewellery, CDs and DVDs of music, dance and theater performances…all art forms. Some schools have created murals on the wall at school and have sent an enlarged photo of the mural with all the students signing the back of the photo. In one school, choral students along with the music teacher wrote a peace song that they performed and videotaped. It can be ANY art form. It doesn't have to be great art—it just needs to be a personal expression of peace that comes from the heart.

What is the biggest challenge in running a project like this?

Our biggest challenge in keeping the Project going for over 20 years has been funding. Keeping up with ever rising administrative expenses has kept us on our toes! We rely on donations for our support and we're so very grateful to the many donors and participants who have whole-heartedly believed in and supported our work for so many years.

What are the best moments in running a project like this?

By far, for me the best part of this project…and what has really kept me going all these years is the response that I receive from participants. After administering each exchange, I think that I can't possibly do this to myself again! But then the images of inspiring art and photos of people who participated start coming in…and I'm overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and goodwill from so very many people in diverse cultures around the world. The photos are often accompanied by inspiring stories about how the Project affected not only them personally, but often their entire school or community. For examples of art created for the exchanges and photos of some of the participants around the world, visit the Galleries on our website here.

How can any interested young people get involved today?

Glad you asked that! Because the Global Art Project for Peace is a volunteer effort that relies on cooperative, grass roots enthusiasm, there are many ways that young people can get involved…right now! They can:

1) Register to participate in the exchange. Details about how to participate are here

2) Participate in the Angel Corps

3) Become a Regional Coordinator

4) Spread the word by distributing brochures (printed in 5 languages) to individuals, groups and schools in their area.

5) Download flyers and posters

6) And we'd love to have help with getting the word out via social media!

For additional information about how to participate and/or volunteer, they can visit our website www.globalartproject.org or contact us at peace@globalartproject.org. We'd love to hear from them…and to hear suggestions for helping that we might not have thought of!

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