Artists in Baltimore make kites in honour of Gaza

Artists in Baltimore make kites in honour of Gaza
Kites hold special significance for Gaza, as it set the world record in 2011 for most flown kites simultaneously, when 12,000 children flew kites on the beach.
3 min read
Washington, DC
31 May, 2024
The event, Kites for Palestine, held at a gallery in the city's cultural district on Thursday evening, drew around two dozen artists from different disciplines. [Brooke Anderson/TNA]

Artists in Baltimore gathered this week to make kites in recognition of Palestinians in war-torn and besieged Gaza

The event, Kites for Palestine, held at a gallery in the city's cultural district on Thursday evening, drew around two dozen artists from different disciplines.

Using the Palestinian flag colours of green, white, red and black tissue paper with wooden sticks to hold them together, the artists, many of whom had not previously made kites, got to work making different variations in honour of Palestinians in Gaza.

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Though most of the kites were based on the Palestinian flag, some were designed in the pattern of the keffiyeh and others were left white with words or drawings on them.

Tirzah Sheppard, a local poet, decided to design a kite to honour Palestinians using the words of the late Palestinian poet Refaat Alareer, who was killed by an Israeli airstrike in December.

"I think it's important for artists to not only reflect the times in their personal lives, but also to reflect the times in the political space, "Sheppard told The New Arab. "Artists are meant to push boundaries and talk about things we don't talk about through artwork. I'm happy to come to an event where I'm able to combine those aspects. I'd love to hear more from artists during this time." 

Expressing a similar sentiment on the role of artists, Nik Koskai, a visual artist and an organiser of the event, told TNA, "Artists have a very important role to play in not only speaking about what's happening in Palestine about the genocide, about apartheid, but also to use art that captures that in a way that evokes feeling in people and brings people out onto the streets, and art that supports those struggles."

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Thursday's event was one of several that have been held by artists in Baltimore in support of Palestinians since Israel's war on Gaza began in October, which has killed more than 36,000 Palestinians in Gaza, mainly women and children. Other "art build" events have had artists create different works, though kites hold special significance for Gaza, as it holds the world record, set in 2011, for the most kites flown simultaneously, when 12,000 children flew kites on the beach.

Artists Against Apartheid, which was born out of the global South African anti-apartheid movement, has been growing in numbers with a commitment to using their platforms to raise awareness of the situation in Palestine.

A passage from a leaflet distributed at the event describing their position and urging other artists to sign reads, "As artists we have a unique responsibility to use out voice and artistic practices to protest apartheid and amplify the just cause of the Palestinian people against occupation and oppression."