Children-to-children, pen pals with paintbrushes, classroom-to-classroom, and country-to-country, Paintbrush Diplomacy has been connecting the world’s children through art and words for 42 years.

Paintbrush Diplomacy (PBD) fosters creative and communication abilities through the arts, and expands awareness, understanding and connection across fields or disciplines, social issues, cultures and nations. Art is an ideal medium for cultivating self-awareness and understanding of issues in one’s environment (e.g., pollution, health, oppression, war) as well as a way of moving beyond one’s own world to understand the world of others. Under this broad umbrella, manifold other activities evolve, as PBD develops partnerships with other programs that promote international communication and diplomacy, employing rapidly evolving media and technology to facilitate that process.

Creativity: PBD emphasizes that creativity is a process that can be learned. In addition to artistic technique, PBD emphasizes respect for imagination, learning to work outside one’s comfort zone, experimenting and learning from failure, collaborative brain storming and problem solving, reappraising one’s work, and persisting until the problem is solved. The purpose of PBD is not necessarily to prepare people to be artists, but to develop habits of thought that will serve them in careers, and in their awareness of themselves and the world throughout their lifetime.

Cultural and international understanding. The artwork that people transmit electronically to PBD’s websites provides a powerful basis for PBD and others to develop and test curriculum designed to enable the transition from understanding the issues in one’s own life to understanding those of people situated elsewhere. Thus, PBD’s online museum and curriculum become powerful tools for learning the skills of diplomacy and cultural understanding.

Child's painting depicting a plane crashing into NYC Twin Towers on 9/11/2011
“Screams of September”

The images on this website – and hundreds of others gathered over the past quarter-century – are powerful, personal, often emotionally charged, and always transformative.  An eight-year-old boy from Prague speaks of “racism” as one who knows too much pain.  An eleven-year-old girl from India paints the horrors of 9/11 in black, white, and red.  Children from war torn, impoverished, and rich nations alike, express the joy of family, friends and celebration with vibrancy and passion.

Now, more than ever, connecting the world’s children through their own creative expression is paramount to creating deeper understanding and greater peace.