NEW YORK: One ceramic bowl contained miniature soldiers in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, angels' wings sprouting from their backs. Flowers and butterflies, rather than bullets, barreled from their rifles.
Two other bowls sat side by side, symbolizing a two-state solution to the deadly upheaval. Yet another bowl, painted with the Israeli flag, sat in a broken pile next to a broken bowl bearing the Palestinian flag.
"Flags separate us, don't they?" Robi Damelin mused as she stood in a Manhattan gallery where dozens of bowls were on display in an exhibit titled "Offering Reconciliation."
The exhibit features 135 Israeli and Palestinian artists' interpretations of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; about two-thirds are Israeli, organizers said.
The show was developed by the Parents Circle-Families Forum, a group of about 260 Palestinian families and 250 Israeli families who have lost loved ones in the violence. The group describes itself as committed to promoting dialogue, tolerance and reconciliation. It is supported by organizations in the United States, Britain, Germany and Israel, its Web site says.
Organizers billed the exhibit as a "persuasive and moving way to understand the deep yearning for normalcy and peace in the Middle East."
"Our main goal is to stop the cycle of violence, to stop the killing," said Ali Abu Awwad, 35, who said his brother was killed in 2000 by an Israeli soldier at a checkpoint at their village. Awwad, who attended the exhibit's opening at the Pomegranate Gallery, lives in the village of Beit Ommar, near Hebron on the West Bank.
"Politicians around the world, we want them to take one side: the solution side," he said.
Damelin, 62, whose son was killed in 2002 while working as a reservist, said: "It's important people understand that there's still hope." She was standing near a bowl that appeared cracked, blood filling the fissures.
The artists were given identical ceramic bowls — their sides 17 inches (43 centimeters) by 19 inches (48 centimeters), and 6 inches (15 centimeters) high — as a blank palette of sorts.
The bowls will be auctioned, with bids starting at $1,500 (€1,063) each. Proceeds will go to education programs run by the Parents Circle-Families Forum. The group, created in 1995 by an Israeli man whose son was slain in the ongoing dispute in which thousands of Palestinians and Israelis have been killed, promotes reconciliation as an alternative to violence and bring together people from both sides of the conflict, according to its Web site.
The exhibit also was shown this year in Israel and at the World Bank in Washington and the United Nations General Assembly. It is on display at Pomegranate Gallery through Oct. 18 and will move on next month to Sofa Chicago, a Chicago exhibit of sculptural objects and functional art.
The tour is funded in part by Israel's Decorative Arts and former World Bank president James Wolfensohn.
On the Net:
Pomegranate Gallery: http://www.pomgallery.com/
Sofa Chicago: http://www.sofaexpo.com/