Peace Pole Public Art Project
The Peace Pole Project was funded in part by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency, the Bedford Cultural District and First Parish Bedford's Social Responsibility Council. The project was conceived and directed by Bedford artist Christine Wojnar.
For this project I created art containing messages and images which speak to my beliefs about actions and ways of thinking that have the potential to create or promote peace in small and big ways. I believe that we can promote peace by addressing climate change as a way to preserve environmental resources in order to alleviate conflict and migration resulting from lack of basic resources. I believe that we can promote peace by looking upon one another compassionately as if we are familiar and casting away notions of otherness in the ways we interact. I believe that we should listen to children who come to the world with fresh eyes and the ability to clearly see how we should treat one another and the planet, from children in our homes to child activists trying to make a difference in the world. Topping the pole on each side is a solid color taken from the medicine wheel in Native American cultures, representing the four directions and the four races on Earth; the phrase "Miktauye Oyasin" comes to mind meaning, "All my relations." These ideas are nothing new, and so it was important to me to refer to them in my work.
Colette Crowley works with the Mitakuye Foundation's Hoye Wayelo ("I am sending a voice") summer arts program where she helps to offer arts opportunities to Native youth in and near the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. She is a licensed mental health counselor and registered art therapist living in Ipswich, MA with her husband and baby girl.
Peace Begins From Within.
A plant begins from seed, grows, then flowers and ultimately bears fruit. Likewise, inner peace can be cultivated, allowing us to face the world fresh in each moment. Then no matter what is happening "out there," we can experience peace to some extent within, and flow with whatever situation that is present before us.
The secondary words on the pole-breathe, notice, accept, evolve-lay out just one of many ways of entering this sacred space, to which we all have access. Breathing, noticing and accepting are direct actions we can take to bring about mindfulness and reflection. Evolving-to a better place, both individually and communally-can result from continued mindfulness and reflection. This better place within us is already there, just covered over. Peace in our communities, despite our differences, is more possible if we start from peace within.
The plant paintings on the pole are hand-painted versions of graphic illustrations by Sky vector.
My family and I have lived in Bedford for 12 years. We love the town, sense of community, and been participating in it fully. Public School, town government, youth sports, church, encouraging small business to name a few of the parts of the community we touch. My plan for the Peace Pole to is to depict a diverse and bright town with different color homes and encourage the sense of community with the words "Home" and "Community". The design will complement the utility box I painted on Great Road
A dove carrying an olive branch is often what people picture first when they hear the word "peace." I sometimes forget that there is also a symbol for it because the dove, to me, is more memorable. There are so many different representations of peace when you Google search the word, but a common theme I wanted to include is the idea of togetherness and community.
Each side of the peace pole represents different aspects that come together to make up the phrase "May peace prevail on Earth." Starting with "May," it represents peace and tranquility in daily life. The next one represents innovation and growth. I wanted to use a flower that symbolizes growth- whether it is personal growth, growth within the community, or growth occurring in the world. Therefore, the flower in this is a goldenrod/solidago, which symbolizes good fortune, growth, and encouragement. The third side symbolizes longevity and endurance. Additionally, the tiger represents strength to continue to persevere and strive for a more peaceful world. Finally, the last side represents the connection with people beyond our community.
I want people to feel at peace when they see my work, but also be empowered to connect with others as a community. That is why each side also has a hand reaching out and ends with two hands holding. Togetherness is the overall theme of this artwork, along with peace.
There is more to peace than just the symbol and the dove. Peace is whimsical. Peace is tranquil. Peace is calming. Peace is also strength, unity, and growth. There are a lot of steps to reach a peaceful world (especially today), but as a community, we are one step closer to reaching it.
Christine Wojnar, Peace Pole Project Creator
The Peace Pole has evolved over time to become an artistic expression of inspiration, hope and beauty in many forms. During our lockdown last year, I was inspired by the creativity of our residents, especially the children, as we made chalk drawings on the streets, hung pictures and teddy bears in windows to uplift and encourage one another. I made a peace pole for my front yard. Knowing about our town's impending designation as a cultural district, I suggested an installation of 'peace poles' as a way to inspire, give hope and encouragement as we emerge from this difﬁcult year.
Please see a map of the four peace pole locations.