New Exhibit Promotes Peace Through Children's Art

Anita Pace

New Exhibit Promotes  
Peace Through Children's Art

by Anita Pace
07/11/2008

From the earliest days of the organized peace movement in the 19th century, children have been acknowledged as victims of war and as peacemakers for international goodwill. A new exhibit, "It's a Small World: Children Promoting Peace Through Art," features children's artwork from around the world that depicts scenes of war and peace and that dates from the first decades of the 20th century to the present.

An image drawn by a 12-year-old for
Art for World Friendship

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The exhibit, on display in McCabe Library until Aug. 8, is presented by the Swarthmore College Peace Collection & Swarthmore College Libraries, with contributions from the Freeman Cultural Arts Complex. A reception to celebrate its opening will take place in McCabe on Tues., July 15, at 3:30 p.m.

"Ever since I opened a box of children's art for a patron over 10 years ago and found what seemed like a treasure trove of beautiful and interesting images, I've wanted to find a way to display them," says archivist Anne Yoder. "They really demonstrate the children's desire for international understanding and showcase their natural ability to be ambassadors of global goodwill."

The exhibit, co-curated by Mellon Library Fellow Daisy Larios, includes paintings and drawings created by school children from various countries in 1964-1965 for Art for World Friendship, posters from a national contest that portray a longing for peace as the United States was gearing up for entry into World War II, and a cloth panel made for a 1985 demonstration in which thousands of ribbons with peace messages were tied together and held by people who encircled the Pentagon. The Freeman Cultural Arts Complex in Chester, Pa., contributed the newest items - peace cranes made by children this month as a modern expression of hope.

"Many images show child representatives of various nations working harmoniously together, a focus of peace campaigns in the mid-20th century," Yoder says. "In cartoons, humor is used to depict children as knowing better than adults how to attain peace and end war. Other items make clear the responsibility of adults for war and the suffering of children."