mark cooper art

Northern Ireland Project - Tearing Down Walls

There is a tremendous power and impact in experiential learning. Through the transparent act of discussing, debating, and coming up with an agreed approach to their painted contributions the young people involved in this project have made a public statement about the desire to break down walls and barriers that have existed for a very long time. Like a bundle of sticks that is far stronger than the individual sticks, their combined efforts make for a powerful statement on reconciliation. Having had the opportunity to discuss the types of walls we build in our minds, that we inherit from our parents and peers, and that, although invisible, are very much present, participants then came up with agreed upon ways to visually represent taking down these walls. This is an experience they will never forget. It also impacts their family, friends, and community.

There are powerful additional benefits from the collaborative project. Placing the finished artwork in a public place of respect is empowering to the individual participants as well as the group. Each participant feels ownership through the process of conceptualizing and actualizing their efforts. Succeeding in this effort is a roadmap to their succeeding in the future in any number of endeavors specific to their interests like career choices or ways to benefit from working together. This collaborative effort is a combination of the best of all worlds: a powerful visual statement generated from the conversation between individual contributors irrelevant of style or skill, driven by the urgent idea of reconciliation and tearing down walls.


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