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Story and Photos by Heidi Randhava

Pablo Picasso’s masterfully painted mural entitled “Guernica,” completed in 1937, shows the tragedies of war and the suffering it inflicts upon individuals, particularly innocent civilians. The haunting work has become a universal anti-war symbol and an embodiment of peace.

Picasso’s iconic mural was the inspiration for Prayer for Peace, Kids’ Guernica, international art collaboration in Nagasaki, Japan. Roycemore School in Evanston is among the schools that are participating in the project by creating murals on “Guernica” size canvases, each 3.5 meters (11 ft.) tall and 7.8 meters (25 ft. 6 in.) wide.

Roycemore was invited to participate by Hirokazu Miyazaki, Professor of Anthropology at Northwestern University and Peace Correspondent for the City of Nagasaki. With the help of a delegation of Japanese artists from Nagasaki hosted by Prof. Miyazaki, students designed murals and painted them in workshops for all students in first through 12th grades on Sept. 23 and Sept. 26.

Mayor Steve Hagerty joined the delegation of visiting artists from Nagasaki at Roycemore on Sept. 26 for the painting workshop. Roycemore students, staff, from members of the delegation gathered for an exchange of tokens of appreciation and presentation of a letter to Mayor Hagerty from Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue. Both mayors are members of the international organization Mayors for Peace.
“Through painting of the murals, I hope more people deepen their understanding of the foolishness of war and nuclear weapons,” wrote Mayor Taue in his letter.

The peace murals will be exhibited in Nagasaki during the month of August 2020 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. The location for the exhibit is at the epicenter of the Atomic Bomb explosion that occurred in Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. Murals created by the children of Nagasaki will be on display next to murals created by children from around the world.

To date, about 400 peace murals have been created in more than 60 countries. Collectively the murals will symbolize the desire for a peaceful relationship between young people across the globe. After the commemoration next August, they will be circulated and exhibited in various countries to promote the idea that the murals, and peace itself, belong to everyone.