Quiero Paz

Xavier Cortada was invited to Medellin, Colombia in 1994 to work with Surgir, a community-based substance abuse prevention group, to develop strategies to fight drugs. Cortada began the planning of the mural at a local school. Youth came together to express their concerns in the violence-torn city. To the artist’s surprise, the mural’s message wasn’t targeted to the community or to modify a particular behavior. Instead, of looking outward, the kids expressed their need to be left alone: Quiero Paz [I want Peace]. The mural design was to be painted on the exterior wall of the school building the next day. However, a phone call was made to Surgir’s office with a warning the artist not to return—it was too dangerous to proceed. The mural was never painted. The empty wall speaks volumes about the insight of these Medellin youth—more so than if they had fully executed the project. They yearned for peace. Peace that was nowhere to be found.