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Up Against the Wall: From Palestine to Mexico

January 23, 2008 @ 12:33 pm

Mural on wall in Palestine

Up Against the Wall Presentation: Friday, January 25, 2008 – 7:00pm – Parish Hall, St. John’s Episcopal Church – 114 20th Ave SE, Olympia
Olympia-Rafah Mural Project workshops: Saturday, January 26, 2008 – 10:00am – 4:30pm – The Olympia Center, Rooms 101 and 102 – 222 Columbia St. NW, Olympia

On Friday, January 25th, Carlos Marentes of Comité Pro-Amnistía General y Justicia Social in Seattle and Susan Greene of Break the Silence Mural Project in the San Francisco Bay Area will present Up Against the Wall—from Palestine to Mexico. Marentes and Greene will discuss connections between the walls constructed and proposed on the U.S.-Mexico border and those in Israeli occupied West Bank and Gaza and, also, connections between the struggles of the oppressed populations impacted by these walls.

Marentes, a Mexican born in the U.S., grew up in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas and the New Mexico-Mexico border where he witnessed poverty, racism, and the constant struggle of farm worker families. He has actively supported indigenous struggles in the Mexican state of Chiapas and in Ecuador and Chile and been active in immigrants’ rights issues. He emphasizes the importance of cross-issue collaboration: “This is one of the more visible issues with the possibility to change things, but the immigrants’ rights groups can’t do it alone.” Marentes believes that many social-justice struggles stem from the same foundations and that people must find points of unity between struggles to effectively address them. His organization Comité Pro-Amnistía General y Justicia Social promotes immigration reform through education, community mobilization, and political work. The group emphasizes that immigration rights are, also, about labor rights, civil rights, and human rights. Marentes is a graduate of The Evergreen State College and is on the board of advisors for the college’s Labor and Research Center.

Susan Greene has twenty years of experience with collaborative community-based mural projects in Latin America, Occupied Palestine, and in the San Francisco Bay area. She is one of four Jewish American female artists who in 1989 formed Break the Silence Mural Project, and with Palestinian communities and artists created murals in numerous West Bank and Gaza refugee camps. Originally from New York City, Greene has lived in San Francisco for twenty-five years and has long been involved with public art practice and the intersection with memory and history. A clinical psychologist, she has a psychotherapy practice and, also, teaches and directs the learning center at the San Francisco Art Institute.

President Bush has signed into law a bill to build 700 miles of double-layer border wall between the United States and Mexico. With US support, Israel continues construction of a 400 mile separation wall that reaches into the Occupied Territories razing and annexing Palestinian land, destroying homes, and turning Palestinian communities into isolated ghettos. Elbit Systems limited, an Israeli company building and profiting from the wall in occupied Palestine, has been awarded a contract, along with Boeing, to build the US-Mexico wall.

The free public event will be at 7 p.m. in the Parish Hall at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 114 20th Ave SE in Olympia. It is co-sponsored by the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice and the Olympia-Rafah Sister City Project, and is the second in a series of programs that link the Israeli-Palestinian issue with other social justice issues. Each event creates opportunities for envisioning images for the Olympia-Rafah Mural Project to be painted in downtown Olympia later this year. The mural will honor the relationship between Olympia and Rafah (in the Gaza Strip) and, also, the common struggles for justice and the hidden histories that impact members of this community.

On Saturday, January 26th, there will be a follow-up day of workshops to plan for the design, creation, and celebration of the Olympia-Rafah Mural Project, and explore the power of the public mural painting process to spark action for social justice. The workshops will be held at The Olympia Center, Rooms 101 and 102, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and will be led by Susan Greene and Lisa Nessen of Break the Silence Mural Project (San Francisco) and, also, local artists. For information, call 754-3998.

Contact: Alice (360) 754-3998 [email protected]


January 23, 2008
12:33 pm