In late April, a package postmarked from Spain came to art teacher Mrs. Diana Barr’s desk. Inside were large puzzle pieces, each uniquely decorated by middle school students depicting their culture’s interpretation of peace.
The artwork, which now adorns the walls of Room 123, arrived in Dayton as part of an international exchange known as the Global Art Project for Peace (GAP). Barr and her students have participated biennially since 1998, exchanging art with a new group from a different part of the world every other year. GAP’s mission is to “joyously create a culture of peace through art.”
“The goal is to get the subject of peace on the table and keep the conversation going,” said Barr, art department chair. “The more you talk about it, the more you get kids thinking about how they can achieve peace.”
Projects of varying shapes, sizes and mediums are mailed out during the final week of April, “encircling the globe with this concept of peace and friendship,” Barr said. Anyone in the world can participate, either individually or as part of a group.
This spring, students in all five of Mrs. Barr’s classes created and sent prayer flags (like those pictured above) to a class of middle schoolers in Spain. Flags were dyed using an Indonesian technique known as batik. Students applied wax over white cloth to create different designs in the negative space while dyeing the fabric over and over.
Freshman Anjalee Guy said she enjoyed designing her prayer flag with the zodiac symbol for pisces while taking Mrs. Barr’s fibers and adornment course.
“It’s a fun class, I’d encourage anyone to take it,” she said. Fibers and adornment was first offered to students at CJ last year. The class introduces artists to new mediums they rarely have the chance to experience including silk painting, jewelry making and sewing.
Prior to dyeing her prayer flag, Guy sewed two cloth dolls representing victims of the Holocaust for a different art project in the class. Her work, along with artwork by six of Mrs. Barr’s art students, has been chosen for display in the Max May Memorial Exhibition at the Dayton Art Institute. The exhibition runs July 20 through September 14.
“The Holocaust project really has a heavy message, so we are glad to follow it up by wishing others messages that are full of love, peace and happiness,” Barr said.
GAP allows students to visually interpret the meaning of peace while experiencing other cultures and exploring the project’s theme: “We Are All One.” CJ has exchanged artwork with artists in places including China, Montana, Utah, Arizona, Indonesia, and Africa in past years.
“It’s really good to think about what peace means in our life and send out messages to others, whether in our country or outside the United States, and share the unity of peace-loving people,” Barr said.
Ceramics students in art teacher Janet Lasley’s classes also exchanged GAP artwork with children in India (pictured right). The story was featured in the spring 2014 issue of Vision, CJ’s alumni magazine.
“The Global Art Project for Peace is our way of sending out goodwill into the world. That’s one of our main focuses here at CJ,” Barr said.
The art department plans to continue its tradition of participating in the project again in 2016.
Max May Memorial Exhibition at DAI
JULY 20 - SEPTEMBER 14
Artwork by the following students will be on display at the Dayton Art Institute through this summer:
- Claire Armstrong '17
- Kweisi Beaty '15
- Essence Garret '16
- Anjelee Guy '17
- Matt Pyper '15
- Emily Stayer '14
- Maureen Zopff '16