The Rapidian

ArtPrize discourse on peace deepens

Deemed controversial in 2009 for a work on peace, artists Kiaralinda and Todd Ramquist make even more effort in their entry "LOVE" at the Van Andel Arena
The need for love

The need for love /Leila Wexe

Underwriting support from:
1000 surprises

1000 surprises /Leila Wexe

“Spread love,” says Kiaralinda Ramquist to participants, on hearing that Grand Rapids Public Schools have been participating in the UN Peace Education Week for 30 years - longer than any other district in the nation. UN Peace Education Week ends just before ArtPrize on the UN International Day of Peace (September 21)

“Make your living doing what your heart tells you to do,” she says. “That makes you happy.” 

Their 2009 ArtPrize work “Peace on Earth, Peace by Piece,” drew diverse interpretations of the word peace. As stressed by one speaker during the recent UN International Day of Peace, “Peace is not the absence of war.” But for some, peace does seem to be a state of the world resulting from social behavior- for example, ending a war by negotiating a peace treaty.

For others, peace is individual human behavior generated by an individual’s internal state. During this year’s International Day of Peace these interpretations were linked. There, it was said the source of peace is really individual human beings not governments or organizations. But only when individual human beings come together can they cause desirable states of the world like ending war, poverty and starvation. 

In their travels the two have distributed a thousand pieces of free art. They put these artworks in surprising places and attach a note inviting the recipient of the gift to post a response on their Facebook page ArtSurprize. The message is “Love.”

In another effort, donations from 10,000 artists and others were given to an orphanage in Burma. And the couple “lives out loud” as, themselves, symbols of the need for peace. Kiaralinda dyes her hair in multiple colors, and they similarly painted their house in Florida. They’ve organized a nonprofit which by small donations of less than 10 dollars have generated over $200,000 and used this money to help the disadvantaged. They also organize concerts for peace which hundreds of people attend, with musicians like Steve Martin’s band. 

“It’s a fun life,” says Todd Ramquist.

Kiaralinda and Todd Ramquist seem for all the world to be “warriors of peace” as discussed in the special hosted by GRTV on the UN International Day of Peace. 

Read more about the ArtPrize discourse on peace here.

Read more about the UN International Day of Peace here.

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