Have you ever felt scared for the future of the world?
Don’t be, there is a revolution going on and even better, you can be a part of it!
MasterPeace is a global grassroots non-profit and non-governmental peace movement that aims to mobilize people around the world to use their talent for peace building and togetherness. Founded in 2011, the movement has created various projects in combination with music, art, sports and dialogue in order to lay a foundation for a more sustainable world with less (armed) conflict. In 2013, MasterPeace received the ‘innovation in peace building’ award by UN General Secretary Mr.Ban Ki-moon on behalf of the United Nations Correspondents Association.
‘Let’s Colour Walls of Connection’ is an art and dialogue project that aims to create togetherness in communities all over the world by transforming the dull gray walls into beautiful murals with the locals. On the 23th of March MasterPeace joined forces with paint company AkzoNobel and 100 students of the Alberta College to kick off their wave of connecting murals, starting in Rotterdam. Céline van Dormalen who organized the event sat down with ASA to explain more about this great project.
-Written by Ard Doko
Hi Céline, thank you for taking the time to do this interview. In your own words, what exactly is MasterPeace?
We are a youth movement that aims to create peace in communities. Our main focus lies in mobilizing youth through various projects related to art and music. With these projects we are creating options for dialogue. I noticed that because of this, we learn to speak our minds and listen to other people’s opinion, creating a base of understanding for each other. I believe that empathy and connection is the main key to a great society. It’s amazing that it all starts with an idea and later on expands into a global campaign. Whether it’s in Colombia, Mali or even Nepal, people are coming together and starting sustainable projects in their communities.
MasterPeace transformed a lot of walls around the world in the course of the years, often in countries with major economical problems, social inequality or those that have been affected by war in the past 20 years. The Netherlands is the first West-European country where the Let’s Colour Walls of Connection project is being held, why did you choose The Netherlands?
First of all, our office is in Utrecht, The Netherlands but the main reason is that we are seeing an increase of polarization in Europe. It feels a lot like “Us versus them” and especially in the big cities, there is a lot of inequality. I have the feeling that a lot of today’s youth feel that they are stuck due to the expectations of society and that is something that is also happening in The Netherlands. On one hand, we’re aware of those problems on the other hand, we want to bend that negativity into something positive. If we emphasize that the world isn’t pretty we’re excluding room for positivity. The mindset has to change.
You said that the youth felt stuck due to the expectations of society, what are those expectations?
If I look back on all the conversations I had with the students at the Albeda College it all comes down to; having a good job, going on vacation, buying new clothes every month and the general feeling of being a part of something. Not everyone has those tools and feels left out in their community. On a broader scale, kids these days have to decide pretty fast what they want to become in life and working towards that goal. Some kids are late bloomers, what about them?
Are the expectations that you just stated new or are these recurring problems and perhaps more visible now a days?
I believe that when my parents were young they had to deal with expectations of that time as well. You will always, especially if you are young, have to deal with the fact that you have different ideas about the world. Kids need to go out to experience and see the world in order to develop. And you know what? It’s okay to choose a different path or make mistakes. I believe it was easier in the past, mistakes weren’t as visible as now a days. Snapchat and Instagram weren’t around to show other peoples success or mistakes. The way we communicate has also changed, everything is much more direct.
The keyword of your project is ‘connection’, in the current digital era it is possible to talk to someone that lives 4000 miles away from you, what kind of connection are you looking for?
We aim to create more togetherness in the world. Art is a way to spark conversation, not only in society but also in communities. Art can show you a raw and harsh reality of what is happening in the world but it can also take you to a world of imagination. You can look at a wall together and ask; what do you see, what is your opinion about that subject? That is how you start a dialogue. All around the world we are creating these murals and everyone joins in the help out with the design and painting them. It’s amazing that you can see a wall in Rotterdam that is inspired by a wall in Nepal, it feels like the whole world is coming together because of art.
Dutch Minister of Home affairs Ronald Plasterk amongst students of Albeda College stated he is in favor of more public art projects like “Let’s Color Walls of Connection” in communities.
What can you tell me about the background of the students that participated?
They are all beautiful people with a lot of ambition. Some of them have experienced a lot in life, some of them have emotional baggage and some of them feel like they are getting a second chance like, I’m 24 with two kids but I’m still going to start an education in order to improve my life. These kids are the symbol of resilience and that is what it’s all about.
You already told a bit about the creative process behind the mural, what does the mural symbolize?
The mural symbolizes the current issues the youth is facing. They’re stuck sometimes and the question is, how do I cope with it? How can I bend it in a way that there is a positive result? If you look at the mural you can see that there is a pattern. Every system has a pattern but what happens if you color that pattern? It also symbolizes the will to get higher up in life (points at the staircase structure) and that everything is connected. So even though you feel stuck inside the system sometimes, the system is dynamic. I believe the graphic designers of “Het Proces” (Dutch for the process) knew exactly how to put those issues and feelings in one big design.
The finished mural
You are planning on doing more murals all over the world this time, a 100 to be exact. Are you planning on doing more murals in The Netherlands?
We’re not focusing on The Netherlands alone, the murals in Barcelona and Paris for example are just as important. I’m looking forward to the themes we have in The Netherlands but let’s look at the global perspective. A mural in Indonesia should impress me just as much as the one in The Netherlands.
Thank you for your time.
Are you an artist that wants to take part in this project click the link:
For more info about walls of connection click here:
For general information about MasterPeace click here: