Peace Tiles is a collaborative global arts initiative that aims to "build bonds between people and communities through art". Specifically, it works to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS, conflict, human trafficking, the environment, population growth, and other issues impacting children and youth through a combination of collage and mural work. Tile-making workshops are designed to engage children and youth in educational art-making activities that aim to give expression to participants' experiences with the issue at hand, to build bonds between communities, and to send a message of inspiration to those whose lives are directly affected by the issue. The Peace Tiles Project has been created and is being coordinated by Lars Hasselblad Torres who, along with partnering organisations, aims to use the creative and artistic process to depict and highlight the vulnerability of children and youth, and to provide them with a dynamic means for self-advocacy and self-expression.
Communication Strategies: 

The tile-making process is designed to raise awareness about development-related issues central to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by engaging participants in a fun, invigorating, and expressive art activity. Peace Tiles are objects of art and communication that are created by children and youth with simple, low-cost tools. Participants cut a wood panel to 8-inches by 8-inches in size (20-cm by 20-cm). After preparing the surface, youth use any combination of paint, coloured markers, pastels, paper (e.g., a newspaper photograph), or any other available media to create a background for the collage. Using liquid glue and a paint brush, artists then wet and mount foreground objects like a photograph, a handwritten note or poem, a piece of coloured string or cloth, a postage stamp from the artist's country, or other artefacts on the surface of the tile. Further instructions for creating tiles - which are meant to serve as rough guidelines only (organisers encourage adaptation to context and community) - are offered on the Peace Tiles website.

Face-to-face, in-person encounters are meant to inspire and enable groups of young people to "raise their visual voices" about HIV/AIDS and other issues that affect their lives by creating tiles together. Structured 1 or 2-day workshops are designed to engage participants emotionally, intellectually, and creatively in a process of "arts advocacy." Participants are encouraged to come to the workshop bearing artefacts from their lives that speak to a personal experience with HIV/AIDS or their knowledge of the pandemic - or with other development issues. These artefacts (photos, letters, scraps of cloth, newspaper clippings, etc.) are integrated into their personal collages that may have "scrap book" qualities, narrative features, and educational value. The idea is that, when put together, the tiles can create moving and uplifting murals that are at once individualised, intimate, and personal - but at the same time, a collaborative artistic expression. As of this writing, workshops are scheduled in India, Uganda, Senegal, USA, Kenya, Bangladesh, the Netherlands, Cameroon, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Canada, and tentatively in South Africa, Thailand, Zimbabwe, Guyana, Ghana, and Lesotho. These workshops are being carried out with the partnership of local organisations; for instance, a series of 6-8 workshops in the Jaipur area of India in September 2005 was planned by Gram Bharati Samiti, an Indian development organisation. More than 200 schoolchildren were expected to take part.

To expose the global public to these creations and their messages, exhibitions around the world on December 1, World AIDS Day 2005 featured large-scale murals composed of individually produced collages. The Peace Tiles project also coordinated the installation of murals in 3 international "solidarity sites": the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; at a children's paediatric AIDS centre in South Africa; and in India. Artists were encouraged to donate one or more tiles to one of these global efforts or to a paediatric AIDS service organisation, to send them to others as gifts, to exchange them with tile-making sites around the world, or to form part of a local exhibit through "art actions" before shipment to the host site. The Peace Tiles project coordinated the exchange of tiles between participating communities.

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are being used as a tool as well. For example, a specific section on the Peace Tiles Project website guides teachers in integrating the creation of these peace tiles into social sciences and community service curricula. Also available here are a variety of other resources, guidelines (e.g., for conducting or sponsoring a workshop), information, and an interactive e-discussion.

Development Issues: 

Children, Youth.

Partner Text: 

ActALIVE, Arts for Global Development Inc., Life in Africa Foundation, Visual Voices, NextAid, members of the Omidyar Network, Saltspring Organization for Life Improvement and Development (SOLID), and Visual Voices.