In our newest book, Painting for Peace: A Coloring Book for All Ages, we featured stories from some of the artists that contributed to the artwork that inspired our books.
Today, we are sharing the story of AJ Rosenberg, who painted the iconic peace dove AJ came with her daughter and friends up to Ferguson to paint on the week
end after Thanksgiving.
Coming from a family of mixed cultures and religions AJ and her family
have always tried to live in places and be around people in a diverse community. A follower of Buddhist philosophy, AJ wanted to create a painting that would literally send her intentions into the world.
"I thought if I could send up thoughts of all of those things I wished for into the universe what that be? Since people release doves all the time I was thinking if I could put all the things that I was thinking onto a dove it was a symbolic release into
the universe," AJ noted.
In addition to her own daughter, AJ and her husband are foster parents and
they have two sons who are African American.
"With all of the stuff that happened with Michael Brown and all of the protests it really hit home. I kept hearing all the fear that other Moms have that once they
are no longer cute little boys they really become a symbol for danger. As these boys came into our lives, we started to realize that next level of importance of making the world a place your children would be proud to inherit. Everything that happened in St. Louis added yet another level to that. It just keeps building layer on layer upon the need for service, the need for community, the need for being active and involved."
AJ feels it is important that everyone felt free to participate in the art.
"I think there were a lot of people that really wanted to participate but felt like they weren’t good enough. I think it doesn’t matter what your level of talent is if you feel compelled to make art it’s a release for you and you should try it. We get so trapped into thinking art has to be something. It shouldn’t be in a box and it shouldn’t be dictated. The beautiful part of art is that it is free expression. I encourage people to find what’s right for them. In a way our painting was kind of selfish because we wanted to have a way to getour emotions out. And instead we discovered that this community that we had come to help, came out to help us instead. There were a lot of people that came by, a lot of neighbors that came and brought cookies and some that came by and just said thank you. But seeing the way that others were inspired and talking to the neighbors and seeing how they got something out of it, it keeps giving. There was a gospel truck that was playing music and going up and down the street everybody was finding a way to be part of it. It wasn't a consideration of am I going to be welcome? What are people going to think? It was just 'Go and do it.' It was amazing to meet so many people and to see how everybody was giving
their little piece of themselves and contributing what they could."