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Unity Through Creativity Blog

Connecting Through Art

By Laurie Marshall

Students at Howard Elementary in Oakland, CA, transform their school with Create Peace Project

Belonging and connecting are tools against violence. My colleagues and I at Create Peace Project in San Francisco, CA use art to help people feel they belong and are connected.

As a lead artist for Create Peace Project, I am facilitating a 30 foot mural, sponsored by Young Audiences, with 220 K-5th students at Howard Elementary School in Oakland, CA. I ask the students why do you think we “create peace” by using art. The answer of the children reflect current research: “I release my negative feelings when I paint.” “I have less stress when I make art.” “Painting makes me feel peaceful.” “When I’m painting, I’m not fighting.” “When you make something beautiful, it brings peace and joy to the world.”

Mr. Z and his class.

San Francisco Unified School District has awarded Create Peace Project the prestigious “Dream Catcher” Award for the dozen murals that have been completed by students around the city. Hundreds of students can say “I made that!” as they witness their mark on their schools. You can see a video here of a recent magnificent mosaic project that involved 500 Longfellow Elementary School students and transformed a city block.

Longfellow mosaic mural.

To learn some more about Create Peace Project’s focus on decreasing bullying through the arts, check out this conversation hosted by the Peaceful World Foundation in their blog. As a guest facilitator, along with members of the No Bully organization, I encourage more dialogues about using the arts to prevent bullying. Collaboration and Creativity makes a more peaceful world. These projects demonstrate what’s possible.

“I feel loved when I look at our Mural.” 2nd grader, Howard Elementary School, Oakland, California


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