After more than 9 months of preparations, Peacebuilders Camp welcomed Dwayne Szot of Zot Artz to Americus, Georgia. Dwayne’s career as an artist has led him to notice that the tools available to artists are not welcoming, useable, or accessible to many people with mobility differences. So he did something about it! He created Zot Artz, which makes art available to all, using tools like the Art Roller and Pogo Paint Pole. Now he travels the world, making art in inclusive community, bringing people of all abilities and mobilities together to create beautiful art and murals. Dwayne’s work helps bring about social justice, and we were excited to welcome him to Peacebuilders Camp!
Our campers discussed article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the morning:
“Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.”
When asked why access to the arts would be considered a human right, campers answered that art allows people to express themselves, connect with their culture, and have beauty in their lives. Our goal today was to invite the wider community to join our campers in exercising this right to enjoy the arts.
Studio 47, a dance, arts, and youth community center in Americus hosted the Zot Artz event, and campers had a great time helping Dwayne set up the space. 150 square feet of paper was taped to the floor, almost ten gallons of paint was mixed and prepared. Tables were covered, foam, scissors, and markers were laid out for participants, and then we opened the doors.
Kids from the local community, families, adults, a group from a local behavior health center, and even a couple puppies in need of a home streamed into Studio 47. People with developmental disabilities, autism, and other less visible differences participated in the event. A young woman in a hot pink wheelchair rolled in. Representatives from the Perry Wellness Center, the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities, and Easter Seals attended. White, Black, Latino, and Asian people played and painted side-by-side. And everybody – campers and guests, young and old – worked together to put their unique prints on our giant 30’x50′ canvas.
By the end of the day, our campers were ready for pizza and a few hours swimming at the GSW pool. But we went to bed with smiles on our faces, and a giant multi-colored mural to remember the day with.