Art in All of Us (AiA)
The Power of Art to Transform Lives
ZenArt, a family run company based in London and supplier of fine art materials, has launched a new initiative to support UNICEF partner, Art in All of Us, (AiA), with the aim of inspiring hundreds of children across the globe to explore and share their cultural differences and similarities through the medium of art as a means to promote tolerance and understanding across borders.
AiA, a not-for-profit organisation based in Brussels, Belgium and New York City, was set up in 2005 by two foreign trade professionals, Anthony Asael and Stephanie Rabemiafara. Currently, it has 400 volunteers across all 192 UN member countries.
As a result of one of the projects, ‘Dreams for Syria’, launched in early 2015, over 1000 children from 31 European countries have created drawings and pictures to spark communication with the children of Syria in workshops run inside schools by AiA volunteers with the help of art teachers. The next step will be to organise similar activities with Syrian refugees in Syria, Lebanon and Belgium. The new artwork will be sent back to European schools as part of the art exchange and will eventually form part of a future exhibition in Brussels.
By encouraging children to express themselves creatively through awareness workshops and interactive art activities, the aim is to give children a voice and offer them the space to express their feelings, build their self-esteem and create a more positive future for themselves and others. AiA believes that understanding is the first step towards tolerance.
ZenArt plans to support future AiA awareness workshops by donating $5 for every review written about their products on Amazon. The money will also go towards the Awareness Curriculum Program, which introduces students to the countries and cultures of the world, using AiA’s extensive database of children’s artworks, featuring over 25,000 of their drawings and poems.
“At ZenArt we believe in the power of art to transform lives,” said the company’s co-founder, Ardak Kassenova. “Art allows the soul to speak so children can express their wishes for the future and help make the world a better place to live”. The initiative comes at a particularly crucial time given the current uncertain global economic and political climate;
“Art is a universal language that can be understood without explanation and is available to any one of us regardless of age, race or background. At this time of rising extremism and intolerance in the world, we want to support the work that AiA is doing in partnership with UNICEF and many others, in building creative bridges between different countries and
continents, helping children to understand and communicate with each other, develop their creativity and friendship, and hopefully make better choices as they grow, and possibly encouraging adults to follow their example by trying to see more ways of communicating and collaborating,” said Kassenova.
Mother, Artist and
Co-Founder of ZenArt Supplies
Having worked for 20 years in different government and corporate projects in Kazakhstan and the UK, the 38-year-old is a highly accomplished business woman as well as an artist
herself, experienced in cross-cultural communication, personal development and corporate social responsibility. Her professional expertise in initiating projects to create fresh
opportunities in life for the young and vulnerable through training in vocational, ICT and language skills, is part of the wider social vision she holds for ZenArt which makes AiA and UNICEF a perfect match for cooperation.
Kassenova also has a more personal reason for supporting AiA, as a mother herself, raising two young girls in a multicultural environment;
“My own family is very multicultural, being Kazakh, born in the Soviet Union, living and playing with kids from across a vast range of ethnic backgrounds and religions, I would say I know about peaceful and tolerant living first hand”.
Later in life Kassenova moved to the UK where she met her Italian husband Roberto.
“I embraced the western way of life, and now we are raising our two beautiful daughters who are still learning to speak and already understand the four languages spoken in our family – English, Italian, Kazakh and Russian. We live in the most international city in the world – London. Living together in love, appreciating the differences and finding more similarities in each other’s culture, having friends from many different backgrounds and celebrating many different holidays – that’s the multicultural experience of our daily life that we try to teach our daughters to appreciate”.
She also sees at first hand the power of art to transform her own children’s lives;
“As a mother I see that encouraging my children to express themselves creatively helps them understand the world around us, develop self-confidence and communication skills and an appreciation of both their own and other cultures.”
Supporting AiA also ties in with ZenArt’s wider vision of creating an international artist’s community to inspire more and more people to pick up a paintbrush and express themselves creatively.
“We are a small company with a big vision”ARDAK KASSENOVA