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Carolyna Marks collaborating with Fruitvale Elementary School (Oakland)

Award: $30,000 Visual Arts Grant awarded in 1998

Completed:  Fall 1999

Students, staff, parents and community members in the Fruitvale District of Oakland collaborated with artists Carolyna Marks, Xochitl Guerrero, and Roberto Guerrero to create and install a 2,000 tile “Peace Wall” at Fruitvale Elementary School in Oakland, California.  The project was developed over the course of 1999 and installed at the school’s entrance.

School leaders drew together students, their families, school staff, and community groups engaged in a Healthy Start project at Fruitvale Elementary. Xochitl Guerrero, a muralist of Aztec-German descent, and her artist husband Roberto Guerrero, who live in the Fruitvale neighborhood, worked with Ms. Marks and the school to encourage neighbors to participate and contributed to the project.

Carolyna Marks led constituents through “The Peace Empowerment Process,” a workshop series she developed over a decade.  The workshop process culminates with individuals’ painting tiles expressing their hopes, dreams, and desires for peace.  Her process incorporated tile painting workshops in all of Fruitvale Elementary’s classrooms  and to creation of 2,000 six-inch Peace Tiles. The artists then laid out the tiles, thematically linking them in blocks and clusters to form a 300-foot-long mosaic. The mosaic explores themes of reconciliation and nonviolence between cultures and generations and within families.

Lead artist Carolyna Marks established the nonprofit organization World Wall for Peace in 1993 to promote moral and ethical  thought about peace through art. The organization’s processes have led to the creation of 36,000 tiles on 30 walls throughout the world.  Sites include a large wall in Moscow, Russia; several schools; and the Fruitvale BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) station.

Fruitvale Elementary School is an Oakland public school with more than 720 students in Kindergarten through fifth grades.  It was and is notable for its linguistic and cultural diversity.