GATHER is proud to announce the 2022 cohort of the GATHER Artivism Fellowship—a five-month program harnessing the power of art to swiftly inspire lasting and widespread change.
Hailing from 11 different countries, the cohort comprises 16 artists, activists, entrepreneurs, and innovators representing a wide range of disciplines and mediums. Each was chosen in part for the work they are currently doing to create change through art—from an Academy-Award winning Pakistani documentarian to the founder of an art-based school for refugee children, to the voice behind one of Israel’s most popular podcasts—as well as their curiosity and desire to learn with and from a community of fellow “artivists.”
The five-month fellowship is the latest in Seeds of Peace’s initiatives that engage artists in peacebuilding, beginning with the Mic & Pen Series in 2015, and more recently, the Kitnay Duur, Kitnay Paas South Asia Film project and the GATHER Songwriters Retreat. The Artivism Fellowship will focus primarily on three areas: the fellow’s ability to achieve their goals; their wellbeing, and creating community—all in an effort to support their ability to create lasting change through art.
“When you talk about changemaking in terms of speed, sustainability, and scale of impact, we believe that art is the most effective medium,” said Pooja Pradeep, GATHER International Director and 2018 GATHER Fellow. “Think of how many people have changed the way they eat, live, or think because of a movie they saw. It’s not signing up for a one-time workshop or protest. Art is a movement that changes behavior, and reaches all cultures and subcultures of people.”
This is the seventh cohort of GATHER Fellows, and the first dedicated to artivists. Seeds of Peace launched GATHER in 2015 with the goal of supporting alumni and other adults working to create the conditions for lasting change. The Artivism Fellowship kicks off this month with a summit, followed by virtual programming that centers around project development, community building, and personal wellbeing.
Learn more about the Artivism Fellows below, read more about the fellowship at gather.seedsofpeace.org, and follow @gatherforpeople on Instagram to see more stories and updates throughout the fellowship.
DANIEL ARZOLA, UNITED STATES/ VENEZUELA
Using Artivism to represent stories of immigrant LGBTQ communities through visual art.
Daniel is a Venezuelan Graphic Artivist whose work is the testimony is of a queer and migrant person who escaped from an authoritarian regime. In 2013, as a student, his series of posters became the first LGBT* graphic campaign to appear and be discussed in the Venezuelan media. The project, titled “I’m Not Your Joke,” has been exhibited in 20 countries. In 2017 he intervened in the first LGBT* metro station in Latin America, The Carlos Jáuregui station of the Buenos Aires subway, which includes a mural of fourteen meters, stairs, and balconies allusive to the history of queer civil rights in Argentina. He currently lives in Minnesota, where his work is focused on creating art that tells the story of immigrant LGBT* people in the Midwest region of the United States.
“For me, art is the echo of a message in time. I believe in art as not only a tool to tell stories and create memories, but also as a symbol of hope. Art makes us feel admiration for people we don’t know, and has the power to transform the spaces it occupies. “
SHARON AVRAHAM, PALESTINE/ISRAEL
Artist in Action, facing the occupation and oppression through transformative art.
Sharon was educated as an artist, realizing most of his works are through the mediums of photography, installation and transformative event spaces. He moves between art and activism with the goal of inspiring young people in the region to connect and collaborate on the pressing issues of the region, mainly the occupation of Palestine.
“Art is a language that is free of social norms, it is an elegant and intelligent way to respond to current events in life and shift consciousness. It touches you in a very honest way and allows people to connect beyond language & political beliefs.”
REI DISHON, ISRAEL
Juggling creativity, innovation & creation with art, design and society.
Rei was born in Haifa, Israel, and has been curious about creativity, photography and technology from a young age. He holds a degree in design with specialization in social and sustainable design (H.I.T 2009). In the last few years he worked as a cultural guide in Tel Aviv, as a curator of the first startup visitor center in Israel, and co-founded an online event production company. He was part of the production team for Burning Man in California eight times, founding the Israeli community of Burning Man in 2012 (called Midburn) and volunteering there for the Art Foundation. Most recently, he became a father.
“My work (alongside those who work with me) creates impact with the sense of art and design as a perception methodology and set of tools —all these in order to create safe space, bring people together, enable dialogue and processes.”
ZAMZAM ELMOGE, UNITED STATES
Uplifting stories of BIPOC and underrepresented immigrant communities through film.
Zamzam immigrated with her family to the United States in 2006 from a refugee camp in Kenya and is currently as an aspiring director at Emerson College. She was awarded the Catalyst for Change Award from Maine Youth Action Network for her first documentary, Reason 4369, which she began working on when she was just 15.
In addition to mentoring youth, building coalitions, and promoting peace with other organizations—such as Seeds of Peace, Gateway Community Services, and MANA (Maine Association for New Americans) Maine’s COVID-19 Youth Coalition—Zamzam has also been active in community leadership. She is the founder and director of the Gen Z Project, which elevates the voices of underrepresented youth onscreen.
“As a documentary filmmaker, my goal is to build trusting relationships with people so that their personal narratives can be uncovered and self-reflection encouraged. It has been my greatest pleasure to work to make a difference in my community through my art.”
DANNA FRANK, ISRAEL
Showcasing stories through podcasts, press, film, & television.
Danna is a writer, podcaster and director who started publishing stories at 16 and never stopped. A graduate of the Tisch School for Film and Television Tel Aviv University, she worked for five years at Kan—the Israeli public broadcaster—where she directed, handled contacts, and created “Hayot Kiss,” Israel’s most popular podcast. She currently hosts a political podcast called “Parliament Light” and writes a weekly column for Ha’aretz. She is also developing several scripts for film and television. A large part of her work has revolved around using stories as a platform to explore ideas that seem too complex or lofty to relate to real, everyday problems.
“Art has always been a huge part of my life. The films of Elia Suleiman have taught me more about the Palestinian side of the conflict than any news story ever could. The music of Luna Abu Nasar, Yasmin Hamdan, and Fairuz got me closer to Arab culture that seemed distant and even frightening to me as a teenager. I believe that art speaks directly to the heart and thus has real potential to change us.”
HAYA FATIMA IQBAL, PAKISTAN
Exposing cultural blind spots & systematic failures through filmmaking.
Haya is an Oscar and two-time Emmy-award winning documentary filmmaker, director, producer, and educator. She is constantly inspired by the poetry of resistance that has been created in Pakistan over time; her interests lie in themes like the connection between climate change and mental health, disability, ethnic conflict, and how societies behave when people grapple with conflict daily. She recently served as a mentor in the Seeds of Peace Kitnay Duur, Kitnay Paas Indo-Pak film initiative, and is currently directing her debut feature documentary, titled “Beyond Victory,” which follows the lives of young women who form Pakistan’s first ever blind women’s national cricket team.
“I am constantly thinking of the different ways this film should be used to create impact among the country’s sighted majority—that is, people who think they can see. When an ordinary Pakistani watches the film, I want them to understand that it’s not blindness that’s the problem; it’s the individual and systemic responses towards blindness that’s the problem.”
Three things that bring her joy: Children’s candidness, socio-political commentary done through meme culture, and getting to know people over ice cream cones .
ALDEN JACOBS, CYPRUS
Supporting young visual artists from communities affected by violent conflict to grow their socially engaged artistic practice.
Alden is the co-founder and Director of Program Development at Visual Voices, which aims to combine traditional arts-based peacebuilding activities with substantive peace advocacy campaigns for a better future. He has a MSSc in Peace and Conflict Research from Uppsala University Department of Peace and Conflict Research in Sweden, where he was a Rotary Peace Fellow. He received a BA in International Studies from the University of Oregon, in the U.S. His professional experience has focused on project management for international community development initiatives in Honduras, Mozambique, Middle East and Cyprus. He is passionate about community development, community involvement, peacebuilding and youth.
“As a US Peace Corps volunteer in Mozambique, I started working with an organization that used music to promote health education and awareness. I saw how much the youth loved it, how proud they were of what was created, how engaging it was for their audience, and how much of an impact it was able to have. This is when I truly understood the power of art and I have embraced it ever since.”
OMRI MASSARWE, PALESTINE
Documenting artists & changemakers through digital art.
Omri is a visual artist, documentarian, and filmmaker whose wide range of clientele includes aid organizations, musicians, and commercial enterprises. With an ever-evolving palette, he is constantly expanding his artistic range, including co-founded an apparel brand and recently designing stage sets for concerts and events. His interest in visual storytelling began in middle school, and he has been teaching himself how to use the camera to better understand and connect the world ever since.
“Art is what shaped me & made me who I am today, ever since I held my first camera when i was in the 7th grade, I knew I had a powerful tool in my hand that I needed to use.”
MANASI MEHAN, INDIA
Providing access to visual arts integrated social emotional learning to children from under-resourced communities.
Manasi is the co-founder of Saturday Art Class (SArC), which, since 2017, has worked to inspire children to create more by giving them access to visual arts learning opportunities through a social-emotional learning methodology. She has been a part of India’s education and not-for-profit space since 2015, when she joined the Teach for India fellowship right after earning an undergraduate degree in psychology. She has also participated in the Gratitude Network Fellowship, the GSBI Miller Center Accelerator Program for Women, The Nudge Incubator, InnovatED, and has represented Saturday Art Class thrice as a TEDx speaker. She holds a Masters’s degree in sociology.
“I believe that art is a language of communication that has no barriers, needs no background, and is exclusive to a person. There is no right or wrong and each piece of art is unique to an individual.”
TABISH RAFIQ MIR, KASHMIR
Writing, shooting, urging, expressing, the “Household Lessons From Occupation.”
Tabish was born and raised in Indian Administered Kashmir. After studying civil engineering in university, Tabish dedicated himself to writing, having worked as a journalist, photographer and a desk editor for various news magazines and papers, both locally and internationally. His focus revolves around the mechanisms of occupier states, blueprint of appropriation, culture, and solution-oriented societal critique.
“I believe in storytelling, in satire, in word-making and world-building through good stories. I believe that the change you want to see in the world cannot be imposed; it can only be suggested. Through abstract and story. I believe that change is a personal belief and stories encourage people the freedom to choose for themselves the real change that starts at home – the only lasting change that happens through a story.”
AIDA MURAD, UNITED STATES/JORDAN
Making people feel seen, heard and loved through paintings and deep art experiences.
Aida is an Arab, NYC-based Spiritual Artist who became an artist after being diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis at age 20, which left her semi-paralyzed for over four years. She turned to art to help her heal, painting only with her hands to demonstrate to herself and to the world that she is not damaged. She continues to paint with her fingers, and today, Aida combines her expertise as a Reiki master, Intuitive, Coach and Artist to create fine art by painting with her fingers to both beautify people’s physical spaces and bring healing (each art piece is infused with reiki). Her work has been published by the University of Cambridge with Ai Weiwei on the topic of migration, and featured globally, including in Voice of America, Reuters, TRT World, Al Jazeera, and the United Nations. She was named as the 2022 Georgetown University Artist in Residence, is a BMW Foundation Leader and has received numerous awards for women in impact, and is on the board of Project Youth Empowerment. As an Arab and previously disabled individual, Aida hopes to open increased pathways for more minorities and differently abled individuals to enter the arts as well as use art for nature conservation and climate change awareness.
“Art saved my life in many ways—it was the only space where I could process my intense emotions and regain my confidence that I was still useful and alive. Art is my tool for change and elevation.”
JANIRA TAIBO PALOMARES, LEBANON
Creating an artful democratic school for refugee children.
Janira is the founder of 26 Letters, a non-profit democratic NGO based in Beirut, Lebanon. It was founded in 2015, during her third year of university, to break the cycle of poverty of vulnerable and refugee children and teens through a holistic educational program that aims to meet their needs all levels while empowering them to become active agents in the realization of their own educational and interrelated rights. She holds a degree in Studies of Asia and Africa: Arabic, Japanese and Chinese, with a specialization in the political, linguistic, and cultural background of the Arab world.
“Art is a powerful tool in changing lives and in my work it has inspired me to develop creative activities and books that improve the emotional, behavioral and cognitive engagement of children with their learning process.”
CHELSEA RITTER-SORONEN, UNITED STATES
Public arts creator, educator, and organizer committed to collective exploration of the ground as canvas.
Chelsea is a multi-disciplinary visual artist living and working in Washington, D.C. Formally trained by scenic artists and informally trained by graffiti artists, Chelsea’s murals often combine trompe l’oeil elements with modern playful twists. She is the owner and Principal Artist of CHALK R!OT, an all-women mural production company that specializes in various forms of pavement artwork. She also teaches art skills to activists on the frontlines of social justice movements. She recently completed a residency at the new Moonshot Studio of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and for the last four years, has consulted for the City of Napa, California, and the City of Washington, D.C. on various public arts initiatives, working to ensure cross-sector collaborations between the creative economy and local governments.
“The power of art is the power of communication, which is the core of all humanity. Art is a language that we can all share regardless of our respective mother tongues or alphabets.”
OR TAICHER, ISRAEL
Creator, social entrepreneur, director.
Or is an artist, social entrepreneur and screenwriter, a film and stage director, and the co-founder, artistic and creative director of Koolulam, an initiative that aims to bring people together through art. He is also a graduate of the Sam Spiegel Film School. In 2002, at the age of 17, Or led effort to organize the disabled community in Israel. In 2003, he was named “Volunteer of the Year” by B’nai B’rith International. Later, he held pivotal roles in social projects such as “Zikaron Basalon” (Memory in the Living Room) and “Krembo Wings”. Or has directed a number of television shows, several short films as well as advertisements for leading television campaigns. In 2018, his comedic network series “Not Everything is Pink” gained national success.
“I believe in the power of art. Every day. Everything makes me want to create—it could be my breakfast and it could be a person thatIi just met on the street. To me, art is everything and it is my first language.”
AMAAL YOUNES, EGYPT
Elevating artistry by & for immigrants.
Amaal is a design graduate, artist, and founder of grain, a studio dedicated to a diverse group of craftsmen and creatives who share a love of craft making. Over the past few years, she’s worked in a variety of sectors including graphic design, furniture, and interior design, and both working with and teaching craftwork, mainly bookbinding, with locals and refugees residing in Cairo, Egypt. Her passion lies in how we as humans can use art to create a world centered around beauty, depth, and functionality.
“As an artist, I have been focusing on thinking of how I can use this beautiful and powerful tool to make an impact and show its power. I hope to spread appreciation for what we as humans can do when we put together our mind, heart and hands to create and spread great products, ideas and learnings.”