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'Peacebuilding' art exhibit launches on West campus

January 28, 2010

An exhibit featuring the art of students from the Phoenix South Mountain High School visual arts magnet program and artists from within the Cultural Arts Coalition has been launched at Fletcher Library on Arizona State University’s West campus. The display of art, presented by the Cultural Arts Coalition (CAC), reflects “Acts of Peace Building” and runs through Feb. 19.

The exhibit of paintings and sculptures will be featured on the library’s second and third floors and is open to the public. Admission is free.

“This is a wonderful reflection of the talents of a group of South Mountain High School students and other artists that aligns with the Cultural Arts Coalition’s mission,” said Judith Butzine, a co-founder and co-director of CAC. “It is our hope that the work of these students will promote social awareness and increase engagement between the public and civic institutions and the people they serve.

“We value the arts as more than mere decoration or aesthetic value; we witness that all of the arts are a primary means of communication reflecting on life lessons through artistic creation and expression. This exhibition highlights ways each individual can be involved in his or her community, building a culture of peace through learning about ‘Acts of Peace Building.’”

Presented in collaboration with South Mountain magnet arts high school students, the exhibit also includes the artistry of Irma Turtle, who has spent the last 22 years in Africa doing humanitarian work through her TurtleWill organization. On her Web site, Turtle says of her drawings, “They depict my world as I know it, see it, intuit it. They depict it as I want it to be and know it can be. The drawings are all about a world of magnificent universal love.”

During the nearly month-long exhibit, a day has been scheduled when nearly 100 South Mountain students will join a dozen of their teachers to view the displays and meet with Charles Banaszewski, who earned his Ph.D. in theater from ASU in 2006 and is now an instructor at South Mountain Community College in Phoenix.  He will share his ideas about art and opportunity with students on Feb. 5.

“Some of the pivotal experiences in my career as an artist have led me to become an active participant in the Phoenix art community, which allows me the chance to discuss with these students the importance of young people learning how to maximize available opportunities in order to become successful entrepreneurs in today's art world,” said Banaszewski, who has been providing young artists a virtual space to display their work through his company,

He said the importance of the exhibit is particularly significant now.

“In our current economic situation, it is absolutely essential for institutions like Arizona State University to reach out and provide aesthetic opportunities for young people living in the Phoenix community to share their creative energies. This exhibit provides young artists from South Mountain High an opportunity to share their creative efforts, and at the same time provide the ASU West campus with quality artwork from Phoenix's up and coming artists," he said.

Butzine said the exhibit will cast a spotlight on peacebuilding and what it means.

“Peacebuilding is different from peacemaking or peacekeeping,” she said. “It focuses on creating a long-term culture of peace, rather than solving existing conflicts or preventing old ones from re-occurring. Peacebuilding activities aim at building understanding and tolerance between individuals, communities and societies and establishing new structures of cooperation. These activities range in scale from personal acts kindness toward others to global inter-governmental programs.”

ASU’s West campus is located at 4701 West Thunderbird Road in Phoenix. For more information, contact Judy Butzine at or (602) 375-9553.