Within Arms Reach contributes compassion and talent to Art Miles Mural Project


Art Miles Mural Project

Long Beach, California— To help educate children and engender awareness, Within Arms Reach summoned its artistic prowess for the Art Miles Mural Project to create, through vibrant color, a representation of the harmonious relationships between urban life, culture and the ocean environment.

Organized by Art Miles, the painting of murals took place during the Aquarium of the Pacific’s Urban Ocean Festival in Long Beach on May 3-4. The event featured professional artists, and groups led by the artists, who designed and painted the murals.

Addressing the “Urban Ocean” theme, the artists were given the freedom to express in an educational way the co-existence and/or conflict between humans and the ocean. The murals will be displayed in the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization Headquarters in Paris, France.

“We are really honored to be part of this event. Art stimulates children’s and other’s creativity and imagination, much like the ocean itself does,” said Within Arms Reach Founder Sundie Zin Samia at the event. “Many children where Art Miles displays its murals have not seen the ocean, so when they get to see all these beautiful and colorful images, it spawns their imagination in a positive way. Art is a great educator, and that’s what we’re trying to do here; educate others about the ocean and its relationship with humans.”

Southern California has one of the largest coastal human populations in the country, while its shoreline supports a variety of species, many unique, which depend on the ocean for survival. Among the most diverse regions in the nation, the state also embraces a variety of cultures, attitudes and opinions about the ocean on how to use its resources.

For the mural painting, each artist was given a five-by-nine-foot canvas to sketch their designs onsite, or in advance, and was invited to bring in a team to help paint the murals. Within Arms Reach team members Jerry Azurin, Ali Hemphill, Lucia Lu, and Zin-Samia developed the designs and sketches for its two murals, and were among 10 members who went to the aquarium to help paint.

Within Arms Reach’s Design
Within Arms Reach offers design services to communities and individuals in desperate need by providing them with sustainable buildings and educational resources. The organization transforms lives through design and Education. It provides construction and development services to people around the world and works diligently to make sure its design services are “Within Arms Reach” of those in need.

With Arms Reach’s abstract mural incorporated the organization’s logo and an aerial perspective of the seashore. The team crafted a design of “converging dichotomy,” such as warm vs. cool, solid vs. liquid, and concrete vs. fluidity. The warm colors of the shore, studded with angler rocks and sand, transition the design into the cool colors of the ocean, swimming with organic shapes and movement.

According to Within Arms Reach’s landscape architect Lucia Lu, the design highlights how— despite cultural differences—people around the world still acknowledge the need to protect marine life and can come together to help heal and protect the oceans.

“It’s about learning, awareness and consciousness. We want to show people that if we don’t preserve our natural resources now, our children—our future—will not be able to fully understand what we have and how to take care of it,” said Lu. “We also wanted to express what Within Arms Reach is all about. So we integrated the lines and forms of our logo, and created a design that emphasized the positive use of land. This is expressed in the colors on one side of the mural, while elsewhere waves and the ocean blend in seamlessly.”

One of Within Arms Reach newest volunteers is Cal State Long Beach design student Ali Hemphill, who also contributed to the mural’s design. She was excited to be included in the process.

“We all knew what it was supposed to be. We used our creative juices to come up with concepts and brought them together until our designs were what we wanted,” said Hemphill. “We wanted it to be family friendly, so children could understand it, and we also want art enthusiasts to appreciate the symbolism. We want children to love, understand and respect the ocean, and art may be one of the best ways to teach them about it.”


Art Miles Mural Project
The Art Miles Mural Project works to build a foundation for sustainable, integrative and creative education and dialogue that brings people together. The organization conceptualizes and forms consensus through mural painting, the arts and multimedia, while promoting cultural understanding, artistic expression and inspiring action.

“It’s not just about painting the murals themselves, it’s about bringing people together,” said Joanne Tawfilis, co-founder of the Art Miles Mural Project. “What we find is that when people get together from different cultures, age groups, religions, income levels, etc., they start talking to each other. So it’s more about community and team building.”

Around the world, the Art Miles Mural Project consolidates the efforts of children and adults to promote global peace and harmony through mural art. The organization is recognized as a major project in support of UNESCO’s “International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non Violence Among Children Organizations.”

Tawfilis said that since the “Urban Ocean” murals were created by professional artists, which is rare, that they would also be displayed in the “Muralist Mile,” one of 12 miles and 12 themes that all Art Miles murals are categorized under. Each mile consists of 440 murals per theme. To date, Art Miles has worked with over half-a-million people from more than 125 countries, and has completed more than 4,600 murals.

“We work with everyone. We have worked with blind people, putting the scent of the color into the paints for them. The results were just amazing,” said Tawfilis. “A couple days ago, our coordinator in Syria called and said ‘Joanne, if I didn’t have the mural project to work on with these kids, we wouldn’t survive emotionally. As we speak, the bombs are exploding all around, but the murals help me distract the children and focus on using art to express those emotions on canvas.’”

– Paul Browning

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Within Arms Reach is made up of enthusiastic individuals giving their time, energy, love, and life away to make a difference in the world.

We always operate on a firm budget, with very few staff and hundreds of resilient volunteers. Our primary budgets are simply designed to fund the projects.
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