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Art can be a powerful vehicle for social change, offering the opportunity for reflection upon pressing issues and social injustices. Through image-making, those who feel powerless are given a voice. One of the most critical, ongoing topics of global concern is the quest for world peace.
In September, scores of artists gathered in Moscow, Russia to paint benches for the The Bench of Peace International Art Project, shown above. Placed side by side, the benches stretched 400 meters along Lavrushinsky Lane and were later auctioned off for charity. Events such as this demonstrate that art is not just about making a pretty picture – art also makes a statement, one that may linger in viewers’ memories long after they’ve stopped looking at the art.
Pablo Picasso, one of the 20th centuries most celebrated artists, created many drawings and lithographs of doves, the international symbol of peace. While his first dove artwork in 1949 was created in a realistic style, his subsequent peace doves took on a more elegant, minimalistic style. On the opposite end of the spectrum, his painting Guernica depicts the horrors of war, and is hailed as one of history’s most powerful anti-war paintings.
Organizations such as the Global Art Project aim to promote peace through art. Through various visual art projects, they seek to educate the public about diversity and tolerance. Art for peace can take the form of community-based projects that focus participants’ minds on the causes of conflicts and solutions for spreading inner harmony and outer peace.
From conceptual street art to traditional fine art, the variety of art created for peace demonstrates the power of images to transform the world, one person at a time.