The Global Rivers Art Exchange is an ongoing cultural exchange program. It
began with the intention to bridge the cultural gaps between people in
different countries by focusing their attention on something that is important
to both: peace, ecology and their local river. The exchange is designed to
inspire and to educate children and artists alike as they learn about their
local river and their delicate ecosystems.
Young artists work side-by-side with a team of professionals creating
individual paintings in a festival atmosphere where music is provided. Prior to
the festival, several workshops are offered where participants receive
information about their rivers from local environmental experts, historians and
storytellers. So the focus is not only the ecology of the river, but the myths
and the history as well.
During these festivals, the young artists are introduced to paintings which we
have collected from our previous art exchanges. This moving collection of works
and artist's statements has grown as we have completed three exchanges so far;
it is exhibited for public viewing throughout the duration of the festival.
Plans call for further showing through public exhibits and eventually, a
worldwide web site.
To create a unique feeling of both relaxation, creativity and openness, live
music is played for the participants by select musicians who create a
multicultural blend of water music sometimes using instruments from previous
festival sites. For example, for the festival recently completed in Russia,
some of the music was provided on a Balaphone (a marimba like instrument from
Ghana, Africa). The goals of the project are:
that students, mentors and people from the public are sensitized and educated
about their river, and the life giving quality it provides them.
Adult artists are brought out of their individual studios to work side-by-side
with the youngsters to provide inspiration and mentoring for them.
The project also serves to forge ongoing relationships (pen pals, further
exchanges and friendships) between environmental artists, young and old, in our
By 1998, The Global Rivers Project has completed festivals and gathered art
from three countries: the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio and the Harpeth
River in middle Tennessee (USA); the Volta River (Ghana, West Africa); and the
Volga River in Volgograd (Russia).
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