VIDEO - A group of New York’s finest urban artists are heading to Sderot and Kiryat Gat on April 24th to bring color to the two Israeli cities.
Israeli graffiti artists who will be both their guides and partners in this mission will join the American artists. Together, the Americans and Israelis will beautify two cities scarred by the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, and equip the traumatized children of the region with artistic tools.
“Their mission is called the ‘Murality Project,’ joining the words ‘mural’ and ‘morality’ to evoke justice through art,” explains Meital Dohan, the Israeli actress now famous for her role on the hit American Showtime TV series “Weeds.”
Dohan is the official spokesperson of Artists 4 Israel, the New York based non-profit organization that is sponsoring the trip as part of its mission to foster exchanges between communities of artists in Israel and around the world who wish to express through artistic mediums their "support of Israel’s right to exist in peace and security."
SUEWORKS at work (Photo: Seth Wolfson)
“The artists are hoping that teaching Israeli kids graffiti will help them to not just leave their mark on local walls, but write a better future for the region,” says Craig Dershowitz, Artists 4 Israel President. “Together they will transform the grim reminders of war – bomb shelters, fortified playgrounds, the carcasses of homes burned out beyond repair, and even the stark remains of rockets – into soaring masterpieces of freedom and expression.”
But Dershowitz says that will only be the beginning of the benefits of this remarkable trip.
The participating American artists include CYCLE, SUEWORKS, and Ame72 among other urban luminaries. Fathers of the graffiti movement Tracy168 and MED have committed to helping from the sidelines by sending in sketches of possibilities for each of the sites.
Each of the artists has their own reasons for participating. One of the graffiti muralists, C.J. Reilly III, lost two cousins in the World Trade Center on September 11. But all hope to contribute something positive and be exposed to a new culture.
'Different side to Israel.' CJ Reilly (Photo: Seth Wolfson)
Following their three-day journey in the South, the artists will visit Jerusalem and then spend a few days in Tel Aviv. While in Tel Aviv, the artists will continue to paint murals of hope and solidarity and finally exhibit the work that they will create on canvases while on their journey in Israel along with documentary material created and collected: photos, videos and memorabilia.
Prior to arriving to Israel, the artists will produce works of art expressing their expectations and then pieces about what they actually experience. They will stay at the homes of Israelis, visit local galleries, and simply enjoy the excitement of Tel Aviv’s vibrant culture and nightlife.
“After spending more than a week working side-by-side with Israeli artists - living with them, eating with them and traveling the length and breadth of the country with their Israeli peers, the New Yorkers are going to have a lot of positive experiences to share when they get home,” says Dershowitz.
“We hope they will then tell people about a different side to Israel than usually gets reported in the media, a country not defined by past conflicts but filled with a vibrant youth culture looking towards a bright future for everyone in the region.”