Iraq/U.S.- Children, Art & Building a Culture of Peace

April 1, 2009 to April 25, 2009

Iraq & the U.S. – Children, Art & Building a Culture of Peace was an exhibit of artwork exchanged between Iraqi refugee children living in Jordan and students at Syracuse’s Van Duyn Elementary School. At the opening reception we celebrated this milestone of understanding through art. We were joined by representatives from our sponsoring organizations; Laura Reeder from Partners for Arts Education and Claudia Lefkow from the Iraqi Childrens’ Art Exchange, as well as third grade students from Van Duyn Elementary School and their art teacher, Ilene Layow. The exhibit displayed a joint mural, an Iraqi mural and other artwork from children connected to the project.

Of equal importance was the contribution made by Iraqi children who fled war-torn Iraq to resettle in Syracuse. These children graciously acted as “emissaries” and spent time with the 3rd graders to provide face-to-face contact with a completely different culture. They also attended the opening and contributed artwork to the exhibit.

About Partners for Arts Education

Laura Reeder was the Executive Director of Partners for Arts Education (PAE). The steady activism of PAE connected artists and cultural partners with educators at all levels here in CNY and across New York State. PAE advocated for lifelong learning through creativity and innovation. Students who participate in the arts, both in school and after school, demonstrate improved academic performance and lower dropout rates. Despite including the arts as being one of the ten core academic subjects, the No Child Left Behind law helped to push arts classes to the side. PAE worked to change that reality and was instrumental in coordinating this art exchange project.

About ICAE and the Art Miles Mural Project

Claudia Lefkow is the Director of The Iraqi Children’s Art Exchange (ICAE) which uses art, art-inspired projects and documenting photographs to create a dialogue — across language, culture and politics– between children and youth in Iraq, in Jordan and in the U.S.  They recognize art as an important language of childhood, one that offers children and youth an opportunity to express themselves, to speak to each other and to the wider community, and to have their views taken seriously.

Work from the Syracuse/ArtRage project joined over 5,000 other murals in a display of art titled the Art Miles Murals Project; an international project that emerged in support of the UNESCO Decade of Peace and Non-violence Among Children of the World: 2000-2010. The project displayed 12 miles of murals created primarily by youth from 125 different countries and involved nearly a half a million people. The ultimate destination of the murals was Egypt, where in September, 2010 The Art Mile Murals Project marked the end of the Decade of Peace and Non-violence Among Children with a giant, gala exhibition.  Thousands of murals created by children and youth from around the world celebrated and gave testimony to their work and vision for a better, more peaceful future. ArtRage was proud to be a part of this effort.