Children-to-children, pen pals with paintbrushes, classroom-to-classroom, and country-to-country, Paintbrush Diplomacy has been connecting the world’s children through art and words for 25 years.
The images on this website – and hundreds of others gathered over the past quarter-century – are powerful, personal, often emotionally charged, and always transformative. An eight-year-old boy from Prague speaks of “racism” as one who knows too much pain. An eleven-year-old girl from India paints the horrors of 9/11 in black, white, and red. Children from war torn, impoverished, and rich nations alike, express the joy of family, friends and celebration with vibrancy and passion.
Now, more than ever, connecting the world’s children through their own creative expression is paramount to creating deeper understanding and greater peace.
Paintbrush continues to exchange children’s art internationally. In addition, we have developed this Online Museum, which enables teachers to access art electronically by country, age, theme and medium. Teachers can also access curriculum approaches that can be carried out in the classroom using the art examples in this museum.
Paintbrush Diplomacy was formed in 1987 to maintain the classroom-to-classroom global art and writing exchange that was begun by Char and Rudy Pribuss. Their original inspiration to connect the world’s children through the universal language of art and writing is still the mission of Paintbrush Diplomacy today.
The seeds of Paintbrush Diplomacy were sown in the early 1970s, as Char and Rudy Pribuss traveled the world, she, an artist with her paints and sketchpads, he, a retired engineer. Wherever they went, Char would paint or sketch, and children would flock around to watch and share their own art.
As Char and Rudy visited 40 countries in over 30 years, the sharing of art with children took on greater significance. Each trip, they carried larger portfolios of art from U.S. schoolchildren; and each time, they returned home to San Mateo, California with pieces that had been given as gifts to share with U.S. schoolchildren.
In 1978 the couple visited a school in Communist China where, despite closed-door policies, they exchanged art from Peninsula schoolchildren for 60 rice-paper brush paintings, which they brought back and displayed at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.