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Make Something School – Awesome!

Posted on 15 July 2010 by lhtorres

Make Something SchoolI usually reserve posts for activities in some way related to Peace Tiles, but this one’s too good to pass up. One of the things that has always motivated me in this work – and I believe is the same for everyone I’ve worked with – is the thrill of experiencing that creative breakthrough with young people.

I’ve had the chance to experience that moment in many ways – through photography, design, theater, and mixed media works. Its no surprise then to read about the Make Something School – brain child of artist Aaron Rose – featured in today’s New York Times Interview. Make Something School has a very simple proposition: mix up young people with some of today’s top artistic talent, focus their combined creative energy on design instruction, and great things will come. All with the purpose of cultivating a life-long addiction to the joy of creativity.

I feel that.

The creativity workshops conducted for young people 13-18 have centered on diverse projects, including mask-making, photography, shoe design, and posters. All with a distinct Do It Yourself (D.I.Y.) that gives the process and products an immediacy that keeps it real.

Learn more at

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Dispatch Work: Pointing the Urban Space

Posted on 28 May 2010 by lhtorres

Graffitti in Babilônia favelaAs a mixed media artist, I’m always on the lookout for intriguing, clever, playful, whimsical ways of using ordinary materials to bring delight to the urban experience. A few recollections came to mind recently – principally as a result of a cool project I learned about during the annual MIT IDEAS Competition retreat I attended this week.

The project that got me thinking back to my days of RAOC (random acts of collage) is a “kite mapping” project that will engage youth in Brazil’s slums in surfacing the narratives of place where they live. The idea is one part arts engagement (cultivate narratives of place), a second part technical (use sophisticated technology to document narrative), another part advocacy (application of evidence to legitimize place). Of course, I’m crazy about using collage as a means for story-telling. Like Rauschenberg, I believe collage best replicates visually how we perceive the city.

I won’t go into more detail; you can learn more about “My City, My Future” (aka ArteRio) here. But here’s my point: an “owned” city space is a healthy city space.

We as the ambulatory denizens of urban settlements claim public space each time we move through it, yet we rarely leave evidence of that claim. When we do, its either harmful (waste) or viewed askance (graffitti). One generally must be a “professional” – sign-maker, architect, landscape designer – to have the privilege of shaping urban space.

And yet the delight and surprise we encounter when we come across the legacy of a Nina, Keith Harring, a Bansky, or a Shepard Fairey is part of what makes cities great – and ultimately a safe, welcoming, familiar, vibrant, exciting place to call home. Dispatch Work in Nabeul, TunisiaPublic art has never been, and should never become, the playspace of technocrats and establishment programs. And there may even be a bit of a renaissance in this “claiming” of public space by young artists working in a startling range of exciting media, which I wanted to catalogue briefly with three examples:

  • Dispatch Work uses, inspires others to use, and documents in-fill of cracks and fractures, opened recesses and crumbled away facades with delightful lego work. Recent work includes Improvisal Design in Sao Paolo, Brazil.
  • Tape Art is a public art and education collective that uses the line, as it can be drawn with tape of any color, to bring rigorous visual work into public and private spaces. Check out their river of art.
  • Blu! has created stunning large-scale animations in the UK and Brazil using the cityscape as canvass. MUTO is their piece de resistance (I think).
  • And who doesn’t love the work of the little people in London, left to (of)fend for themselves amidst the hustle and bustle of daily life. The micro-macro relationships are jaw dropping.

Its an exciting time for the urban artist and a great time for us to think and push the boundaries around art, participation, and community development.

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New Resource: Workshop Design Guide

Posted on 05 November 2009 by lhtorres

Peace Tiles Workshop Design CoverOne of the questions that often comes up when people encounter Peace Tiles for the first time is, “Sounds great – but how do I run a class or workshop?”

I can see why: there are lots of moving parts, and inviting others to create art isn’t something many of us have the privilege of doing very often.

So I decided to write up a brief guide that I hope does two things:

  • Inspires anyone to give the process a go
  • Provides a loose framework for running a workshop

The guide is 12 pages (1.2mb) and saved as a .pdf file. Click here to download. If you have any difficulty, drop me a line at peacetiles at gmail dot com. Thanks – and please, do send me your feedback on the guide – and let me know if you’ll try it!


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Peace Tiles Mosaics: Hundreds Needed!

Posted on 24 September 2009 by lhtorres

I’ve been playing around with the idea of creating Peace Tiles “mosaics” as the number of tiles on file grows – via flickr, documentation, etc. the concept is to be able to assemble any and all images of peace tiles into large mosaics that, when squinted at, actually compose a single “whole” image. this would be especially compelling for groups – like one upcoming Peace Tiles marathon here in Vermont – that will produce significant numbers of tiles ie 400 or more. Here is a sample:

peacetiles_mosaic_source peacetiles_mosaic

What is especially cool about this I think is the possibility of “modeling” actual murals ie use the technology to compile a digital mock-up of the final mural, thus generating a map (or “paint by numbers”?) for how to assemble the mural. Exciting I think!

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World AIDS Day 2009 Discussion Guide

Posted on 01 September 2009 by lhtorres

Triumph of the Spirit uses 16 Peace Tiles images as "cards" to generate discussion around young people's experiences with HIV/AIDS.

Triumph of the Spirit uses 16 Peace Tiles images as "cards" to generate discussion around young people's experiences with HIV/AIDS.

Since 2005, the Global Peace Tiles has been collecting stories and messages from young people affected by and at risk of HIV/AIDS. We’ve collected some of these into a unique discussion guide, A Triumph of the Spirit. The purpose of the guide is to inspire groups to see the many facets of the global pandemic as young people have witnessed it, and to use their messages as entry points into a discussion around community action.

Using sixteen unique, full color “cards” that reproduce Peace Tiles made by young people in over a dozen countries, the Triumph guide provides both questions for discussion as well as links to further information on the web around the topic addressed – from healthy sexual behavior to self-image to risky factors. The guide also provides some basic background information about the pandemic, including data around the impact of HIV/AIDS among young people and how the virus is transmitted.

Groups of all kinds are encouraged to use this guide as an entry into discussion this World AIDS Day. Build on the discussion by creating, contributing and exhibiting your own Peace Tiles! Reach out to the Peace Tiles partners who helped to create the images and find ways you can open a youth-to-youth discussion, share resources, and support each other in the effort to make AIDS history.

Questions? Feel free to email peacetiles at gmail dot com.

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Jim Bumgardner’s Peace Tiles Cover Pop

Posted on 26 August 2009 by lhtorres

Screenshot of Jim Bumgardner's Peace Tiles Cover Pop 


Screenshot of Jim Bumgardner's Peace Tiles Cover Pop

Jim Bumgardner is a really interesting guy: by day a front-end computer programmer for Yahoo and Topspin, and by night, weekends and other time-space variants an artist, educator, family man and much more. Back in 2007 he did me a great favor by indulging in a Peace Tiles mosaic experiment.

Using his Cover Pop program that pulls in Flickr images, he’s able to generate these wonderful mosaic image browsers. By mousing over a collection of images – whether cellphones, magazine covers or Peace Tiles – the viewer can both enlarge the desired image and pull up some additional information.

It was a wonderful experiment that I wanted to share again here, and it really was the genesis of how large-scale Peace Tiles murals are made today using MacOSaiX. Thanks again, Jim!

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