Bringing the Beach to TYO

After two weeks of planning and painting, Rimah’s art classes have completed two new murals at the TYO Center. Students from across Nablus discussed possible themes, drew out sketches, and decided, together as a class, how to put together each student’s sketch to create the best murals possible. The results are two colorful works of art that have already begun to brighten up the ground-floor lobby, welcoming children of all ages as they come to TYO to explore and learn.

The first class chose to focus their mural on nature. The second class, after some discussion, decided to focus theirs on the sea. "Has anyone ever seen the sea?" asked Rimah during class. The students all shook their heads and told Rimah that they had never been to the beach or seen the ocean, despite the fact that the Mediterranean Sea is less than an hour's drive away. Because these students are Palestinian, they are denied access to the Mediterranean. The beach, although geographically near, couldn't be farther.

Some students, committed to doing a good job on their mural, were a little anxious about painting a place they had never visited, but decided to paint the sea anyway. They were going to visit the beach through their art.

Deciding to paint somewhere unknown to the class was not just a coincidence, however. Children use art to understand and explain the world, especially elements of the world which do they do not know or understand well. According to a 2005 Rand report, art and the process of making it "can connect people more deeply to the world and open them to new ways of seeing." Now, every day at TYO, children can see the ocean through these students' artwork.