Artists create peace mural at Spontaneous Celebrations

April 11, 2014
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While U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is pushing for a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a group of local Jewish and Palestinian artists is creating a mosaic “peace” mural at the studio Spontaneous Celebrations at 45 Danforth St.

“We don’t want war. We don’t want kids to die. We want a good life for kids. We are Jewish and Muslims who work together and feel like a family,” artist Thaer Abdallah said about the message the mural and its creation represents.

When the Gazette visited the studio in February, the mural was partially completed. Constructed on three separate wooden panels, it features a Jewish woman and a Muslim woman separated by a river and who are painting the future in the background. Farther down river, children are playing in the water and there is a bridge, representing the coming together of the two sides.

“That is what it is all about—breaking down the walls and getting to know each other,” said Vivienne Shalom, another of the artists. “We all yearn for peace, and hopefully, better things for our children.”

Abdallah is a Palestinian who was born in Iraq. He said he left there in 2005, leading threatened Palestinian families to a refugee camp in Syria, where he said he was tortured. He came to the United States in 2008.

Abdallah, who is a Jamaica Plain resident, is one of six Muslim and Jewish artists working on the mural. The others are Adnane Benali, Phyllis Bluhm, Beverly Shalom, Vivienne Shalom and Richard Youngstrom.

The mural, which is called “Seeing Through Walls,” is the brainchild of Vivienne Shalom, a Roslindale artist who describes herself as a Syrian Jew, and her sister Beverly. She said the idea to do a peace mural with a diverse group of artists came to her several years ago when she and her sister planned to travel to Israel. The trip was cancelled because Israel was attacking the Palestinian-governed Gaza Strip at the time.

“I felt it was really wrong and I wanted do something,” said Vivienne Shalom. “Not all Jewish people were in favor of the government policy. I wanted to do something to bring people together.”

Three years ago, the five artists and Abdallah started working from one of his sketches towards the goal of the peace mural. Vivienne Shalom said Abdallah’s sketch was the “original impetus,” but they have now added things and it is completely different work of art.

The mural is not a permanent addition to Spontaneous Celebrations. Vivienne Shalom said that the artists hope to complete the mural in the summer and to exhibit it somewhere, though they don’t know where yet.

For more information, visit seeingthroughwalls.org.

[This article has been updated.]

The “Seeing Through Walls” mosaic mural. (Gazette Photo by Peter Shanley)

The “Seeing Through Walls” mosaic mural. (Gazette Photo by Peter Shanley)

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