Whirling artwork promotes peace

Painted paper blades twirl through the air outside several Shelby County schools this week representing their artists’ interpretations of peace.

“One said peace was taking a nap with their dog and that’s what they drew,” said Mt Laurel art teacher Celia Deaton of one of her young art students. “Others said they believe peace meant being with their family, being themselves or helping others.”

The artistic creations are the work of students at Chelsea and Mt Laurel Elementary Schools, as well as the Linda Nolen Learning Center. All of the students are participating in the Pinwheels for Peace project.

Pinwheels for Peace is an art installation project created three years ago by Ann Ayers and Ellen McMillan — art teachers in Coconut Creek, Fla. Each student involved uses bright colors to portray what peace means to them. They then planted their pinwheels in front of their respective schools. Those participating in the project, display their pinwheels in conjunction with the International Day of Peace, Sept. 21.

Students around the world displayed 1.2 million pinwheels last year.

“It shows there are students all over the country, all over the world, participating in this project,” Deaton said. “I think they really enjoy knowing they were doing the same things as students in Russia, Asia and South America.”

Deaton wrote a grant over the summer to provide materials for her students. The $2,500 the school received allowed her to buy about 650 pinwheels — 580 for Mt Laurel and 70 for the Linda Nolen Learning Center. It will also provide her with money to fund other school-wide art projects like a mosaic mural she plans to begin next week.

Students at all three schools also had class discussions about the topic of peace and read books related to international peace, peace among friends and classmates and peace within families.

For more information, visit www.pinwheelsforpeace.com.