Faces cover the wall of one of La Châtaigneraie’s art classes. Behind them looms the mushroom cloud of an atomic bomb. This striking piece of art was made by Year 7 students as part of the national Fondation Eduki competition of 2019-2020. It is not commemorating victims, but instead stands testament to the power of peace. Each of the faces represents a peacemaker, collectively they form ‘The Shield’.
Detail from "The Shield" showing peacemaker Malala Yousafzai
The students were inspired by a visit from Philip Jennings, President of the International Peace Bureau. He spoke to the students about the Hiroshima bombings which form the backdrop for their work. But it was Jennings’ point about the importance of individual action, however small that may be, that struck the students most. Brainstorming together, they decided to remember and thank those peacemakers they learned about.
The first step of creation involved tracing the outline of the atomic cloud, a process that involved several artists drawing while being guided by their classmates looking from afar at the "bigger picture"
“The faces form a unified force to protect us from the bomb. The image of the bomb represented war and destruction,” the students wrote, explaining their artwork. “We hope that the piece raises awareness of the importance of peace and gives thanks to the efforts of all the people who work towards a more peaceful world.”
“The Shield” won second prize in the “Visual Arts” category for Secondaire I in the 2019-2020 Eduki competition. Designed to be exhibited at the United Nations’ Palais des Nations as part of the award ceremony that was moved online due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the artwork currently graces an entire wall of the Art Department at La Châtaigneraie.
"The Shield" was a truly collaborative project, with 141 students each contributing their artistic skills to the creative process
“It stands as a shield but also as a mirror,” says Beatrice Hoesli, who retired from her post as a visual arts teacher at La Châtaigneraie in June 2020 after 33 years of teaching at Ecolint, “a mirror to show that if you stand together as one people, as one world, and you express that unity through a universal language like art, then what you create together is greater than anything any bomb could ever destroy.” For the 141 Year 7 students who took part in this project, peace was the message they chose to express together, a strong and moving declaration of unity for all to see.
Take a look at Year 7’s work here, share it and spread their message of peace.
"The Shield" as it stands today in the Art Department at La Châtaigneraie