This September Let’s Celebrate Peace and End Racism

Robbie Priolo

The Art of Autism’s Art and Poems for Peace 2022 Post #4

By Robbie P.

I am very excited at the opportunity to participate in this year’s The Art of Autism’s 7th Annual Peace Project. World peace has always been a very important tenant throughout my life.

After graduating university with a BA (Psychology), I served in the Canadian Forces Primary Reserves as a Naval Officer from 98-02. Historically our military internationally has been recognized for their contribution to global peacekeeping roles. I did not serve in any such role, however was completing occupational training during my service.

While still a member of the Reserves, I returned to university to obtain my Bachelor of Education. During my academic studies at the University of Toronto (OISE), all teacher candidates had the
opportunity to participate in internships. My choice was an internship with The United Nations Association of Canada, Toronto Chapter. I worked directly with the Association with two other candidates, producing and presenting the document, Building Bridges: Establishing and Implementing Educational Partnerships using United Nations’ educational resources and initiatives.

And so, this year’s United Nations and The Art of Autism’s theme: End Racism. Build Peace, resonated greatly with me. Social justice is a cause very dear to my heart and this extends to all citizens throughout the Earth.

R. Priolo Imagine
Robbie P. ‘уявіть собі’ (Ukrainian translation) or ‘Imagine’ Acrylic on Canvas

‘уявіть собі’

This piece of artwork I had decided to create specifically for consideration of this year’s peace initiative. It is piece designed to focus on the plight of the Ukrainian peoples and the human rights
violations they have endured during the Russian invasion, which continues to intensify. Ukraine has been under a state of cultural genocide and ethnic cleansing, and this stems from racism at it’s core.
The piece is named in Ukrainian for the word ‘Imagine” or ‘уявітьсобі’.

All but one needs to do is to listen to John Lennon’s classic song lyrics to understand the meaning behind this artwork. I was having an online conversation about the piece when it was still in development with my Art of Autism friend and ambassador Linish Balan. We were sharing ideas about getting the essence of the ‘message’ across to the audience in terms of icons, imagery and text. In the midst of our discussion, the FM station I was listening to, serendipitously played Lennon’s famous song about peace. It was days later I had decided to name the piece after the song, and it resonance for a longing of world peace.

R. Priolo Abba Father
Robbie P. “Abba Father” Acrylic on Canvas

My second submission is entitled ‘Abba Father’. Abba is the defining term for Father in the Aramaic language. It is an intimate term which depicts a personal relationship with the Creator.

For Christians around the globe, Jesus in known for his famous parable about the Good Samaritan. Samaritans, were a people formed from the intermarriage of Israelites and Gentiles brought into the Jewish homeland by the Assyrians. It is important to note that these Samaritans did not observe many of the texts that were held sacred to the Jewish people at that time, as well as rejecting other sacraments of the Jewish faith. Without a doubt during that time, Samaritans were viewed and treated as ‘second-class’ citizens because of their ethnic diversity and different faith choices.

In the parable, the Samaritan is the hero, where Jesus challenged all that listened, to love ALL people equally and without prejudice. That all people, regardless of race, have the right to be treated with dignity and respect.

Abba Father is a tribute to a Creator that desires each and everyone of us to show compassion to all fellow Earthly citizens, regardless of our differences.

When you view this piece and the influence of the anti-racism theme, please as the reader/viewer, consider and appreciate the teaching of the parable. At the time the parable was told, this would not have been a world view shared by others and was indeed quite progressive in terms of humanitarianism.

I would also note that I personally had to set aside the grave errors committed by humans and the horrors committed throughout history who were in control in terms of the organization and management of the ‘church’. Much of these events transpired were caused by greed for power, lust, control and manipulation. Having said that, I wholeheartedly agree with the essence of the parable and how novel and progressive it was, in terms of promoting and advocating for human rights, some two millennium ago.

So let us this September, recognize, reflect and celebrate World Peace and strive as global citizens to end racism and build peace!

Robbie Priolo

Robbie P was raised and lives north of Toronto, Canada. He is an Abstract Expressionist who has Asperger’s (diagnosed in 2008). He typically works in acrylics, employing a technique that uses brushes and other tools in ways that differ from mainstream artists. His ‘drip style’ technique, commonly uses an ‘allover’ composition in order to permit no visual centre of attention, with an emphasis on line, colour, texture and form.

While studying education at the University of Toronto, he would additionally be instructed in art theory, technique and experimented with various mediums. In his beginning years teaching, a portion of ost days were found teaching Visual Arts using the Ontario Curriculum and trying to invoke a love of the arts with his creative passion and enthusiasm.

In the winter of 2004, he sojourned to a northern and remote fly-in First Nations community in Northern Ontario (James Bay) to fill a unique opportunity to work with Indigenous atypical students. Each of these students had unique behavioural challenges. Robbie quickly recognized that visual art had great therapeutic potential and specifically Action Painting. This genre of art allowed each student to express their inner feelings without subjective judgement from others.

It was from this point, that his journey into Abstract Expressionism began.

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