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MIT’s D-Lab Discovery Class Gets Collage(d)

Posted on 01 October 2010 by lhtorres

Setting the contextSpecial thanks to Nathan Cooke for taking such great pictures of the workshop!

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of providing an introduction to collage and mixed media processes to the D-Lab first year students at MIT. The 24 or so students were all a part of a newly designed “Discovery” course aimed at introducing students to critical concepts around creativity that would set them up for success in course work down the line. As the D-Lab Discovery course description puts it,

We want to respond to the needs of these under-served communities with your creativity and ingenuity. In this seminar, we will explore and enhance your creative potential, and harness it to address problems in international development.

I was a little worried going into the class. First, these are bright kids. You can’t bullshit your way through a discussion. Second, D-Lab has great faculty; at the end of the day I’m just a Joe with some experiences and ideas about art. And finally, I didn’t have much time to prepare – I was invited to plan the course exactly one week before. That’s the MIT spirit – problem solve!

Anyway, with the help of one of the course assistants we were able to hone in on a basic direction and flow of the class. The aims were three-fold:

  1. Introduce students to concepts of art and social action – what is the role for creative people in social change?
  2. Provide an overview of collage and mixed media in contemporary art and tie it to my own work.
  3. Facilitate a learning exercise through which students can learn some basic technique and design concepts.

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This World AIDS Day, Be the Change!

Posted on 23 July 2009 by lhtorres

Bhawani Shanker Kusum, Director of GBS in India, honors youth art and advocacy in Jaipur during 2007 World AIDS Day activities.

This World AIDS Day, the Peace Tiles project wants to create an international visual record of thousands of voices for life. It doesn’t matter if you’re positive, negative, consider yourself at risk or not at risk – we all have a story to tell, and we all have stories yet to learn.

This December 1, the Global Peace Tiles Project invites you to be a part of a visual force for change. Using the power of the arts to create and share deeply personal messages, lets create works of art that illuminate, educate, and advocate for the well-being of PWAs around the world – from children in isolated rural communities to our metropolitan elders.

Peace Tiles workshops can be held almost anywhere. Combine people with a generous portion of art supplies, meaningful discussion. Stir. Stand back!

There are lots of ways to get involved. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Introduce yourself. Drop by our facebook page and drop a note, ask a question. Its a great way to connect.
  2. Browse our resources. We don’t have a lot, but some of the people we’ve worked with in the past have helped to create amazing materials. Check ’em out on our resources page.
  3. Ask questions. Lots of them. Don’t stop. Seriously! It can seem risky, to commit to organizing art workshops and such. But once you get started, we promise: it’ll be hard to stop!
  4. Define your impact. This is a biggie. Think local, think global. Sky is the limit here. Want to educate through workshops, or mobilize the public through a mural? Raise funds or facilitate exchange. A little of everything? Develop a step by step to get there.
  5. Start planning. With a step-by-step guide in hand, mobilize local resources – from meeting space to arts supply stores to local clinics and youth service organizations. People want to help: just create the right framework for action and ask!
  6. Coordinate. We’d love to know what you’re up to, and how we can help. Obviously, we’d love to receive some of your tiles and add them to our international mural efforts. With local and global murals, we and coordinated exhibitions we can generate alot of momentum!

Got other ideas? We’d love to hear them! Post here as a comment or head on over to facebook and share your thoughts. Of course, sometimes we just like to give, and you can do that too. In fact, we really need you to: gifts small and large help us support workshops around the world. On average, we’ve found that it costs about $300 to fund a workshop for 20-30 people. All donations made to Peace Tiles through Paypal stay in Paypal and are redirected to workshops through Paypal. In some rare cases, funds are routed through financial services like eMoneygram and Western Union. Either way, you can be certain that they make it to workshops, in the U.S. and around the world.

Interested? Click the button below to make a secure donation using Paypal.

This World AIDS Day, lets inform everyone from the world’s top AIDS policy makers to the children in our neighborhoods that to “Make AIDS History” we’re going to have to work together.

Thank you!

lars hasselblad torres


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Pirton School (UK) Looking for Exchange

Posted on 09 July 2009 by lhtorres


Students from Pirton School (UK) grades 4,5 and 6

Students from Pirton School (UK) grades 4,5 and 6

Pirton School (UK) reports, “Class 5 took part in an art workshop to make a “Peace Tiles mural” to send a message of hope and inspiration to children whose lives are directly affected by conflicts around the world. Class 4 will take part in their workshop next week. The project is being promoted by the children’s newspaper First News which Classes 4 and 5 receive each week and has kindly been co-ordinated by Mrs Gbadebo.” From a recent email, it sounds as though they are interested in making connections with others. Drop a comment if you’d like to “twin” with them!

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From St. Eustache With Love

Posted on 17 September 2007 by lhtorres

From CanStar Community News, September 17, 2007

Danys Lachance’s Grade 5 class at École St. Eustache School get down on the floor next to their Peace Tile project, which aims to raise awareness of conflict in Sudan.

Danys Lachance’s Grade 5 class at École St. Eustache School get down on the floor next to their Peace Tile project, which aims to raise awareness of conflict in Sudan.

A recent class project made Grade 6 student Samantha Rush happy to be living in Canada.

Rush, a student at École St. Eustache School, and her classmates have been studying the conflict in the Sudanese province of Darfur. It’s a project teacher Danys Lachance says has opened their young eyes to the wider world.

“I had no clue about what was going on in Darfur,” said Rush. “But we watched a movie about it and learned about it in our class.

“We all want to do something, so at least they’ll know there are people who know about them and care about them.”

That something was the creation of “Peace Tiles,” part of an art project allowing the St. Eustache students a chance to express their own feelings about the situation in Africa.

“What we’ve been working on is a unit on accepting differences,” said Lachance, “and a co-worker of mine was involved in organizing the Run 4 Darfur, so we felt it led nicely into what we were doing.”

Lachance said after learning about the African conflict and watching the acclaimed film “The Lost Boys of Darfur,” his students asked if they could do something to help.

“They just couldn’t believe that something like this could be happening in this day and age,” said Lachance.

“The tiles are just a way for them to express how they feel.”

Teacher Roxanne Sarrazin, who was involved with the organization of Run 4 Darfur, an Oct. 7 fund/awareness-raiser at Assiniboine Park, where the students’ tiles were on display.

“They (were) exposed at the start of the run, along with the students’ writeups so people could see what they’re all about,” said Lachance.

Sarrazin teaches some of St. Eustache’s younger students, and she said while the Grade 5 kids could handle some more graphic details about Darfur’s atrocities, it was harder to get her Grade 3 class involved in the project.

She said she hopes the letter-writing will make the students more aware of the outside world and will hopefully become better global citizens.

“But you don’t want to traumatize them,” she said.

“You have to try to see it through an eight-year-old’s world. What we’re having them do is write a letter to someone in a (refugee) camp…a ‘dear new friend’ kind of thing.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to actually send them out.”

That’s a goal Lachance shares. The teacher has been contacting various aid organizations to see if the students’ projects can be sent directly to Darfur.

“That’s the goal,” he said. “We want to let them know there are kids in Canada who are paying attention and who care about what’s happening over there.”

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