Some of the most inspiring moments of Peace Exchange workshops happen while watching students eyes widen to the array of colors being presented to them and listening to their minds churn with possibilities that each new color provides.
There are a few things I’ve learned in my years as an arts educator that strike me as important. All kids, and all people, are naturally creative. Creativity is the truest expression of our soul, of our deepest inner nature. The way we choose to express ourselves is an expression of our inner voice; the authentic, raw, and real energy of our existence. I choose to use visual art as the technique of choice, as I feel that in each picture a child can communicate so much about who they are and how they see the world. In this case, we are talking about making art for peace. The way a child organizes his/her thoughts, vision, and use of color, pattern, and form reveals so much about the innate inner wisdom and ease of their mind and heart. Without extrapolating too much, I would guess that one could probably gauge a child’s intelligence by a simple drawing, but it’s nice to know that this is neither an important aspect of this project, or the intention of what we are doing.Simply making art, by drawing and coloring, gives a child the opportunity to express itself in a unique and profound way, not regularly undertaken. The second bit of wisdom I’ve gathered is that through the practice of making art, in this case, visual art and writing, a child or person, must turn their attention inward. As one begins to explore being creative, they must shift their attention from the world around us inward, thus initiating a practice of introspection and the cultivation of self-awareness. Looking inward to draw on thoughts, feelings, emotions, and ideas related to the peace topic at hand is, in my opinion, itself a peace practice. And thus, by making art for peace and then sharing it with a similarly aged student in another part of the world, each child is engaged in a multi-faceted peace practice. Practices include: 1) pause and breathe, be calm quiet and still. 2) reflect on the meaning of peace, ones vision of peace 3) send peace energetically out into the world 4) turn ones attention inward in contemplation of being creative 5) transform thought/feeling into visual expression = alchemy 6) while being creative, one naturally pauses ~ focus brings quiet : “the Peace Pause” 7) creating something and giving it away is sharing. Sharing art = sharing love and love = peace (I’ve heard thousands of kids confirm it!) *8) having fun while doing it all!