On March 21, youth and members of the Pilsen community hung handmade prayer flags and walked for peace at the Infinite Ripples of Peace March, organized by ElevArte Community Studio.
The march was part of Ten Thousand Ripples, a public art and peace project promoting peace in Chicago’s neighborhoods, created by a partnership between artist Indira Freitas Johnson and Changing Worlds. The project centers around the sculptures of rising Buddha heads, made of fiberglass and cement, spread in often unexpected public places throughout 10 Chicago neighborhoods. But the project also aims for the artwork to spark conversation and programming that engage the communities in activities that promote peace.
“The goal is to have the sculptures serve as a beginning for a dialogue about community issues, safety, to promote arts and culture programs in the community and to really help bring people together,” said Mark Rodriguez, Executive Director of Changing Worlds, to the crowd before the march began.
The walk started in front of ElevArte Community Studio in Dvorak Park with a blessing of the Buddha sculpture and moment of silence for the members of the community who had lost their lives to violence. From there, participants walked with drums, cardboard butterflies, painted banners and handmade prayer flags to the Jardin de las Mariposas, where another Buddha head lies.
Pilsen is a community with a rich history of public art, especially mural making, said Giselle Mercier, Executive Director of ElevArte Community Studio.
“[Mural Making] is a tradition that speaks to social changes and social justice, things that people want to say in a beautiful way,” Mercier said. “So with that tradition in mind, the collaboration with Changing Worlds was very natural.”
The Buddha heads are temporary, but each participating neighborhood will keep five of the sculptures for permanent display.