WATCH: A Decade Later, Artists 4 Israel Are Back in Sderot with a Message of Support

By Alexandra Morrison/TPS • 23 July 2019
Photo by Alexandra Morrison/TPS

Artists 4 Israel last visited the Israeli town of Sderot a decade ago with the desire to transform reminders of terrorism and conflict into uplifting works of art. Several hundred artists from around the world rendered bomb shelters and orphanages into beautiful murals with graffiti and street art.

This project is “actually what created our direction as an organization,” explained Craig Dershowitz, CEO of Artists 4 Israel.

The team has since vastly increased its scope and is now comprised of several thousand participating artists from 21 countries.

Dershowitz said that their return to Sderot this summer was “not only [to] celebrate the [10-year] anniversary [and] to add more work here,” but also to show the “continued involvement of Artists 4 Israel and of the international collective of artists with Israeli communities.”

Dershowitz said the program’s main objectives are “to directly benefit Israelis and Israeli communities in need…[and] to turn influential, urban contemporary artists into advocates for the country.”

The participating artists volunteer their time and talent to support Israel, coming from across the globe during times of hardship and war. Their contributions bring color and energy to the community, enhancing the residents’ quality of life and making them feel cared for.

Artist Cedric Douglas from Boston, Massachusetts, used children as his inspiration on his bomb shelter artwork. He explained that the concept of his mural in Sderot is of a child “reaching up to the heavens, looking for guidance” as a way to “inspire [affected families] to think about better times or a better future” during a crisis.

He described the striking contrast in his piece as a clash between “the innocence of a kid with this…really difficult situation with war and missiles.” Douglas hopes his artistic contributions can give “back to the community or to the future.”

The inspirational vision that stemmed from painting bomb shelters in Sderot ten years ago has blossomed into a large network of community and international programs that all aim to help Israelis affected by terrorism and hate.

Dershowitz noted that Artists 4 Israel is “most well-known for our graffiti programs, our tattoo programs, and our urban fashion programs, but we’ve worked with everything from ballet to alternative rock and across the spectrum.”