Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Martinique by Savina Tarsitano


Martinique "The abolition of discrimination"

Kid’s-Guernica in Martinique

by Savina Tarsitano, artist


Yvette Galot

in cooperation with the Director Yvette Galot of the Centre Culturel de Rencontre Fonds Saint-Jacques”, Martinique, 2007, thanks to the Odyssey Programme



Pablo Picasso painted "Guernica" in answer to Fascism, Arthur Miller wrote "The Crucible" in response to McCarthyism and Dimitri Shostakovich wrote his Seventh ("Leningrad") Symphony in protest against the Nazi invasion of Russia and Stalinist totalitarianism.


In 2005 Savina Tarsitano developed in Soveria Mannelli, a small village in the Southern Italy, an artistic project entitled Creativity in Motion” to promote social integration through art.

The project aimed to strengthen art in local community education curricula and to restore a relationships with inhabitants and their own community through an action painting. She wants to emphasize the creative potential children, adolescents have to express their worlds to a broader community through art collaborations and the importance of their concerted efforts to build relationships with the wider community.

In 2006 Savina was invited in Martinique by the Centre Culturel de Rencontre Fonds Saint-Jacques thanks to the Odyssey Programme to develop her project with the local community.

She started to work with a group of children and adolescents not integrated into the local community and not involved in the centre’s actions. Most of them didn’t come to the cultural centre and did not feel connected to the artistic activities. The main aim was to restore a relationships with young people and children and make them appropriate the building and integrate them into the community. The project brought together adolescents and children between the ages of 6 and 20. They were questioned about their memories and their views of the old distillery (what representation did they have of the monument? did they often visit it, and if so when, and on which occasion? what were their memories of it? etc.). This created links between generations and between new inhabitants and older families which had settled a long time ago in Fonds Saint-Jacques. It also helped to create bridges between past, present, and future, and to restore the relation between them and the monument, between the population and the centre. The project was successful and it was decided to continue it in 2007 in realizing a Kids’-Guernica canvas.

They entitled the painting: The abolition of discrimination”.

Due to the previous project the adolescents and children became more communicative and self-confident. The most marginal group which did not participate in the past years was integrated into the community through the project.. The boys worked at home for some days, and then one of them came with an idea of representing peace with two hands shaking each other. One white arm, the other a black one could show the tolerance between people and thereby signal the end of injustice and discrimination. The arms should be at the centre of the canvas. Long chains were shown to be around the wrists and they had to be broken as a sign of freedom and hope for a better world. Around the arms would be the universe with all the five continents to mean peace, friendship and tolerance throughout the world. Outside of the universe is joy and friendship represented by different colours to match different civilizations. They are illustrated with four small squares all inside the hands: in white and black to recall the main drawing as the message of peace. The drawings are full of symbolism taken from their culture; at the same time, it underlines their own identity in need to be understood and not judged.

One of the final two squares represents the river, the sea, the skin and the birds, while the other is a tomb of Père Labate who came to Martinique and Fonds Saint-Jacques to educate the people and convert them to Christianity.

Thanks to the artistic language we are able to open hearts and to enter different worlds. To be part of a project means to work together, to help each other, to be tolerant, to cooperate, to exchange. We exchanged our opinions, ideas without the one or the other being superior but all persons having the same aim: to complete the canvas.

We cannot change the world or lives or destinies, but we can try to do our best to help ourselves by letting everyone express themselves freely and without fear.

art and social justice

The view that art has a special role to play derives from often unexamined assumptions about the relation between art and life. The natural tendency to turn to art to tell us about the world and ourselves, but also to help us cope in a wide variety of circumstances, suggests that the artist still plays an important, arguably undiminished role at a time when the link between art and culture has been decisively destabilized.

This assessment implies that social responsibility is based on access to truth, which seems to be the exclusive appendage of private sector. According to this new implementation of responsibility the artist does not and cannot know, and hence cannot play a formal socially responsible role although his/her ability, creativity, aesthetical is request by an informal way.

Arts and culture are not simply nice or pretty matters of secondary importance but of prime importance. The art and cultural scene actively contributes to the sense of well-being among the population in each region. Arts and culture play an important role for the international standing of the communities.

Artists not only document social change; they promote, inform, and shape it. Whether through music, plays, graphics, paintings, songs, films, media, architecture, photography, poetry, sculpture, pottery, landscapes, dance –art is powerful. And its marginalization is a missed opportunity.

The social dilemmas facing our world are great: the war, the chipping away of civil rights, the climate change, growing disparities in economic and educational status, rising rates of violence, chronic alcoholism, depression and youth suicides. It’s important to remember that all these disparities are not only unjust, they are preventable. Understanding the root causes of social injustice and realizing one’s power to affect the conditions it creates are necessary for healing and key to preventing them in the first place.

So, what role can art play? The purpose of community art is to engage participation. Art rooted in neighbourhoods mirrors, activates, stimulates, educates, agitates, delights, promotes, prevents, provides options, intervenes, inspires, transforms, crosses cultures, honours traditions, unites, – in safe, accessible, and relevant ways. Artists with experience working cross-culturally can break down barriers between communities, dispel ignorance and fear, and build trust.

Art also gets the point across. Artists would work hand-in-hand with those developing citywide, cross-departmental, and grass-roots initiatives aimed at creating positive change. They can use their artistic capabilities and their professional abilities to partner with community-based organizations.

Savina Tarsitano

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