Painted umbrellas carry message of peace

June 4, 2009 (HOMER GLEN, Ill.) He has traveled the world, inspiring children and adults to pick up a paintbrush, open an umbrella and create their own picture of peace. ABC 7's Harry Porterfield says this artist and humanitarian is someone you should know.

It's always nice to have an umbrella around when it rains. But these third graders at the Reed School in south suburban Homer Glen aren't worried about getting wet. Theirs is a humanitarian concern expressed artistically. The project is Umbrellas for Peace, founded on 9/11by artist Matt Lamb.

"Everybody in the world knows what an umbrella is. You can go into the deepest part of Africa or the Champs-Elysées they know what an umbrella is," said Lamb. "It's very important because it's an individual statement by them that I am a peacemaker."

A self-taught painter with an international reputation, Lamb was once a Chicago businessman who ran 22 funeral homes.

"I decided I didn't want to die as a businessman. I always thought I could make strong political, social and economic statements through art and what I learned as an undertaker," said Lamb.

Since Umbrellas for Peace was founded, Lamb has visited 18 countries and involved more than 700,000 in painting umbrellas.

"I think its really nice because it's an umbrella. It's like a sign of protection," said Justine Jast, 3rd grade.

"I made a heart with red, white and blue to stand for our country. And I made some stars for peace," said Zac Fox, 3rd grade.

Mary Jasinski is principal of Reed School.

"The message that Matt Lamb has is one of world peace. It's a great character initiative. It's bound our kids together in a motivation of talking about what they can do to make the world a better place to live in," said Jasinski.

"I'm 77 years old. I can't wait to get up everyday. Because I going to meet these people who are really going to change the world," Lamb said. "They are going to change the world and I'm going to be part of it."


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