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Buddha statues project aims to stop violence

July 12, 2013 4:53:02 PM PDT
A local artist has been changing the landscape in several Chicago neighborhoods by adding art in unlikely places -- and hopefully sparking conversations. It's part of a movement that hopes to evoke peace and offer a solution to help stop the violence.

You may have seen them in your neighborhood. There are 100 Buddha sculptures scattered throughout nine Chicago neighborhoods and Evanston as part of a public art project to promote peace. They are the work of artist Indira Johnson. It's part of a year-long project called Ten Thousand Ripples.

"Our actions of peace, whether it's just maybe greeting someone in a nice way or actually helping, being kind, helping in some way, whether they are everyday actions or heroic actions - they all ripple outwards. So automatically an action that you do will then affect that person and that person might be motivated to do something similar," Johnson said.

The initiative was organized by the educational arts non-profit Changing Worlds.

"If you're walking past an abandoned lot or area where you wouldn't expect to see a sculpture or something different, it creates a moment for you to stop, reflect and think," said Mark Rodriguez, executive director, Changing Worlds.

Community partners have been sponsoring anti-violence events. Students at the Epic Academy in the South Chicago neighborhood hosted a music showcase and peace rally.

"There's a lot of violence in this community, and we figured we could have students express themselves better than doing violence. They can do it with music," said Natalie Phillips, junior, Epic Academy.

"One of our friends was shot in the community and that's why we are motivated to spread non-violence in the community," said Jawon Mayberry, junior, Epic Academy.

Organizers say even as the project draws to a close, they hope the promise of peace will remain.

"This image of a Buddha that's rising up out of the ground, that's becoming like we are growing and becoming as well and so it's one symbol of peace," Johnson said.

When the project ends, some of the sculptures will remain in the neighborhoods while others will be auctioned. Later this month, Ten Thousand Ripples will culminate with an exhibit at Loyola University. you can find details about that and other upcoming events at http://www.tenthousandripples.com/

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