Peace is possible with new exhibit at Santori Library in downtown Aurora

Santori Library, at 101 S. River St. in downtown Aurora, opened a new exhibit “Messages From Our Children: 100 Visions of Peace,” that displays artwork from the Peace Pals International organization. The artwork is currently on display in the John C. Dunham Atrium through August 9.

Peace Pals, a program encouraging youth from around the globe to become peacemakers, holds an annual art competition for children around the globe. Each year there are thousands of entries, and finalists are chosen in each age group. Each artist incorporates the phrase “May Peace Prevail On Earth.” while addressing that year’s subtheme in their artwork.  On display at Santori Library include the winners and finalists of each years contest from 2012 to 2017.

The exhibit showcases the talent and the vision of young children ages 5-16 from around the world. The details in their artwork can be easily missed but when noticed, they are eye opening and give a sense of hope for the peace in our future.

The exhibit is a result of the collaboration of the Aurora interFAITH, a consortium of communities of faith in Aurora Illinois, and the staff at the Santori Library. Pastor Cyndi Gavin, a leader of Aurora interFAITH, learned about the Peace Pals organization and was immediately inspired by the vision and the hope of these young children around the world, she said. The contest has had submissions from 93 countries through the years. Pastor Gavin said that the images generated by the young children give us all hope for the next generation. The youth is not afraid to dream and make change, Gavin said.

As the exhibit was being set up and visitors were arriving, Pastor Gavin recalls an individual saying “these two images here, they give me hope for the future.”

There is a viewing guide that is being created that encourages viewers to pay attention to specific details and make certain realizations about the artwork. For example, there is artwork in which children mistakenly use the Mercedes Benz symbol instead of the peace symbol. There is a deeper meaning to the small mistake, and visitors will began to notice similar things.

Bonny Sebby, special projects and events manager at Santori Library, curated the exhibit. The exhibit is in a curve shape. Viewers intertwine through the panels and that creates a peace walk. The “S” curve is very purposeful. Sebby feels that this artwork “gives a feeling of hope, although we are so close to global conflict all these children have a sense of hope.” She also highlights that this exhibit closes on August 9, Hiroshima Day, a day now used to mark respect for the lives lost and bring awareness to the need for world peace.

In extension to this art exhibit, the Peace House located at 301 Fifth Street and North Avenue, offers classes and programs for people of all ages and religions.

The Peace Pals exhibit will be on display during First Fridays on August 3. More info here

For more information on Peace Pals, visit http://wppspeacepals.org/.