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Atlanta groups organize art exhibit for Sochi Olympics
by Nicole Dow
February 05, 2014 11:28 AM | 2553 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Special Photo / Three Atlanta organizations - International Paint Pals, Friendship Force International and The ArtReach Foundation - organized an art exhibit for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. It features art from children around the world. Pictured at the exhibit's pre-opening celebration in Sochi are, from left, Irina Kizilova, deputy director of the Institute for Cultural Programs in St. Petersburg, Russia; Linden Longino, director of International Paint Pals, a program of Friendship Force International in Atlanta; Joy DiBenedetto, president of Friendship Force International; Lena Kelekian, artist and president of MEADOWS in Beirut, Lebanon; Hagop Kelekian, architect from Beirut; and Yury Kazantsev, Friendship Force's board member in Rostov-on-Don, Russia.
Special Photo / Three Atlanta organizations - International Paint Pals, Friendship Force International and The ArtReach Foundation - organized an art exhibit for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. It features art from children around the world. Pictured at the exhibit's pre-opening celebration in Sochi are, from left, Irina Kizilova, deputy director of the Institute for Cultural Programs in St. Petersburg, Russia; Linden Longino, director of International Paint Pals, a program of Friendship Force International in Atlanta; Joy DiBenedetto, president of Friendship Force International; Lena Kelekian, artist and president of MEADOWS in Beirut, Lebanon; Hagop Kelekian, architect from Beirut; and Yury Kazantsev, Friendship Force's board member in Rostov-on-Don, Russia.
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Special / Chris Durant / Two young Atlanta artists Katie, 6, and Emily Durant, 10, smile as they take a break from creating artwork. The sisters, who are students at Pace Academy in Buckhead, are among hundreds of children around the world whose artwork will be featured in an exhibit at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The exhibit was put together by Atlanta organizations International Paint Pals, Friendship Force International and The ArtReach Foundation.
Special / Chris Durant / Two young Atlanta artists Katie, 6, and Emily Durant, 10, smile as they take a break from creating artwork. The sisters, who are students at Pace Academy in Buckhead, are among hundreds of children around the world whose artwork will be featured in an exhibit at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The exhibit was put together by Atlanta organizations International Paint Pals, Friendship Force International and The ArtReach Foundation.
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Special Photo / Thousands of children's artwork, including the ones pictured, will be on display at three locations during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The exhibit, which features art from children around the world, was put together by Atlanta organizations International Paint Pals, Friendship Force International and The ArtReach Foundation.
Special Photo / Thousands of children's artwork, including the ones pictured, will be on display at three locations during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The exhibit, which features art from children around the world, was put together by Atlanta organizations International Paint Pals, Friendship Force International and The ArtReach Foundation.
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Special Photo / Paint Pals organizer, host and Winter Olympics Committee member Ludmila Ivanova carries the Olympic torch Tuesday in Sochi, Russia, before the games opened Friday.
Special Photo / Paint Pals organizer, host and Winter Olympics Committee member Ludmila Ivanova carries the Olympic torch Tuesday in Sochi, Russia, before the games opened Friday.
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Buckhead-based International Paint Pals teamed up with Friendship Force International in Atlanta and The ArtReach Foundation in Brookhaven to assemble a children’s art exhibit that will be featured in Sochi, Russia, during the 2014 Winter Olympics, which begin Friday.

Paint Pals founder Linden Longino said his organization has been creating children’s art exhibits for the Olympics since the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta.

“I was working on an anti-poverty program in south Atlanta for the Carter Center” in 1995, he said. “We wanted to come up with constructive projects for kids in some of the poorest areas in Atlanta. The Olympics were coming in ‘96, and we thought a children’s art exhibit for the Atlanta Olympics would be a good idea. I was able to get kids from Atlanta and kids from nine other countries to participate.”

Longino’s efforts have grown as the Sochi exhibit will feature between 5,000 and 10,000 pieces of art from 54 countries. He said about 225,000 children have participated in the exhibits over the past 18 years.

The theme of this year’s exhibit is “Peace and Friendship through the Olympic Spirit.”

“Kids painted all kinds of pictures demonstrating their ideas of how the Olympics bring people together in friendship,” Longino said.

To obtain artwork from children all over the globe, Longino tapped into his network of international contacts and partnered with Friendship Force and ArtReach.

“Basically we tasked our clubs around the world to go out into their communities, work with local schools and gather paintings and drawings from children around the themes of peace and friendship and the Olympics,” Friendship Force President Joy DiBenedetto said.

Friendship Force is a cultural exchange organization with 350 clubs around the world. Paint Pals merged with it last year.

ArtReach is a nonprofit that uses art worldwide to help children and adults process trauma. Founder Susan Anderson said her organization has been working with Paint Pals for years, participating in art exhibits for past Olympic Games in Greece and in China.

“We were able to give Linden some of our artwork that was generated in our program that he could use for his exhibition,” she said. “The kids are just thrilled to think that they have created something in their countries that are going to be shown to people in Russia.”

The exhibit will be displayed at three Olympic Villages throughout the Olympics and Paralympics, and then the artwork will be placed in children’s hospitals in Russia, Longino said.

On the web:

For more information on the art exhibit, visit www.friendshipforce.org. For more information on the other two organizations, visit www.paintpals.org or www.artreachfoundation.org.

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