Tuesday, April 05, 2005

TransCultural Exchange Project Promotes Peace

I am the Assistant Director for an international artists' collaborative called TransCultural Exchange. Boston sculptor Mary Sherman is the Director of the organization, which she founded in 1985*.

What we do: Every three years or so we stage an art project with a global scope. The Tile Project, Destination: The World is currently being installed in 22 permanent public venues around the world. Each installation is comprised of 100 or so tiles created by as many international artists, mostly whom we have met on line through our web site: http://www.transculturalexchange.org.

In October I travelled to Baku, Azerbaijan to participate in the reception for the installation there. Chingiz Babayev, the host artist, welcomed me into his family's life and his country's culture. The opening reception of Baku's installation at the Azerbaijan Academy of FIne Arts was attended by dignitaries from the American Embassy, the Academy, the Soros Foundation (our sponsor), two television stations, Radio Liberty, and a Baku journal.

While I was in Baku, Chingiz introduced me to artist Ali Shamsi, who took me to see the petroglyphs in Qobustan, about 70 kilometers south of Baku. The petroglyphs are among the oldest in the world, up to 20,000 years old. Thor Heyerdahl claimed that the petroglyphs have a lot in common with Viking runes, and that they may have been created by the ancestors of the Vikings. I am of Scandinavian ancestry and personally I see the connection...

Ali also showed me an ancient cemetery, piles of stones in the middle of a field, many of which were etched with similar petroglyphs. The backdrop for this excursion was the Caspian sea, volcanoes, rocky mountains formed by tectonic plates smashing into each other, and vast desert.

Azerbaijan is a former Soviet state and is largely Muslim. The two languages they speak there are Russian and Azeri. I am a blonde single Jewish woman who speaks only English with the typical college smatters of French and German. Nevertheless, I was made to feel perfectly at home, welcome, and honored by these lovely people. My gratitude is profound. TransCultural Exchange is sponsoring host artists in all installation countries to have such an experience (Chingiz went to Finland).

The course that we take on earth as humans can be changed one person at a time. With understanding, compassion, and focus on working for peace we all can make a difference. Please visit TCE's Tile Project site for more information: http://www.transculturalexchange.org/tileproject/.


TransCultural Exchange is an award winning 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to promoting international art, global harmony and the understanding of world cultures, through high quality art exhibitions, cultural exchanges and educational programs, at our home base in Boston and throughout the world. Incorporated in 2002, the organization has already received awards from such organizations as the International Art Critics Association and support from such respected world organizations as UNESCO, the State Department’s Art in Embassies Program, and the Asian Cultural Council, among others.

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