Joanne Tawfilis, founder of the Art Miles Project

by Slater Jewell-Kemker

"I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way -- things I had no words for." Georgia O'Keeffe, Painter
Mural from the Peace, Unity & Healing Mile (
Mural from the Peace, Unity & Healing Mile (

Joanne Tawfilis is the executive director of The Art Miles Mural Project, which she co-founded with her late husband, Fouad Tawfilis. As of 2019, The Art Miles Mural Project has mobilized more than 500,000 people from more than 125 countries to paint more than 5,000 murals. When the project reached 4,000 murals, they were displayed at the "Culture Wheel" in Cairo, Egypt and live streamed to over 200 million people globally. The United States presented the Art Miles as an exhibition in Paris, France, at the UNESCO headquarters. People from all over the world, of all ages and cultures, create the art, which is either painted or sewn onto canvas. Joanne and Fouad wanted to create a project that would "teach children understanding and respect."

Joanne Tawfilis  (The-Art-Miles-Mural-Project)
Joanne Tawfilis (The-Art-Miles-Mural-Project)

The first murals I saw were at the iEARN conference in Slovakia in 2004.

I remember brilliant colors, paintings of people and animals and plants, finger-paintings and even one mural from Africa that was all hand-sewn from scraps of fabric because they didn't have paintbrushes and paints. But my favorite one was blank. This was the one that was to be painted by us, the Youth Summit, at the iEARN conference. Kids from Japan, Africa, Russia, Egypt, Taiwan and many other countries joined together to create one big piece of art. I remember kids laughing and having a great time painting. From my experience, I feel that Joanne and Fouad's project truly embraces peace by bringing people together.

Some thoughts from Joanne:

"Somehow we (my husband Fouad and myself) never dreamt the mural project would get so much attention."

Joanne and Fouad Tawfilis <br>(
Joanne and Fouad Tawfilis

"With each brush stroke, the masterpiece grows like a spring flower in an overnight rainstorm."

"When we look at the murals, each of them, we see something new each time and savor the joy of children being together unaffected by the barriers the world so readily constructs around them."

"By growing up in a world of bigotry and racism, sexism, and all the other "isms" that exist, this mural project works like an electric eraser. It washes away the years of tears, the injured heart, the clipped wings, the prisons and ropes that always get in the way of letting us care, really care, about each other."

"For all YOU parents, teachers, organizations, leaders, students, business people, individuals, caregivers, and loving citizens, thank you, thank you, thank you! We believe what is happening is fulfilling our objective of creating global harmony through art."

An Amazingly Beautiful Mural
An Amazingly Beautiful Mural

The beautiful mural above is the dedication mural of The Women's Mural Mile. It was painted by Austrian artist Silvia Pecha in honor of Joanne's mentor, artist Laurel Burch, "a courageous and lifelong woman humanist, whose artwork has served as an inspiration and healing vehicle to women worldwide."

Many canvasses have already been painted, but there's still much work to be done. Maybe after you read this, you'll help Joanne by creating a mural of your own. Go to The Art Miles Mural Project website below and see how you can be a part of creating this masterpiece.

Details from two separate murals done by children in Cuba and Canada.
Details from two separate murals done by children in Cuba and Canada.

The Multicultural Diversity Mile
The Environmental Mile
The Indigenous People's Mile
The Women's Mile
The Senior Mural Mile
The Great Wall Mural Mile
The Peace, Unity & Healing Mile
The Music Mile
The Mentors Mile
The Sports Mile
The Fairy Tale Mile
Celebrity Mile

Page created on 3/1/2015 1:29:02 PM

Last edited 1/4/2021 3:20:30 PM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links

The Art Miles Mural Project - A global art project creating 12 miles of murals for the International Decade of Peace, 2001-2010. Join them by clicking here.
Kids For Saving Earth - provides free, inspiring, environmental education curriculum by mail and online. Conservation, endangered species, rainforests, forests, toxic waste sites, health issues, and ecological concerns are covered on this Web site. Earth day should be every day!
Arts and Healing Network - is an online resource celebrating the connection between art and healing.
World Peace - People all over the world are joining together to bring peace to our hearts and our planet through the prayer May Peace Prevail on Earth.
International Education and Resource Network - iEARN is the world's largest non-profit global network that enables young people to use the Internet and other new technologies to engage in collaborative educational projects that both enhance learning and make a difference in the world.

Extra Info

Share your stories and memories of the iEARN family in the MY HERO iEARN Guestbook


Visit the MY HERO Virtual Art Gallery
to see more Art Miles Mural Project artwork:

Children painting a peace mural after 9/11

The Kalachakra Peace Mural, with the Dalai Lama and Buddhist Monks

The Manhattan Mural Project

In addition to Slater's wonderful Art Miles Mural Project tribute, visit Kevin Metz's Art Miles Mural Project hero entry to learn even more about Joanne Tawfilis, the project, and its current work.


MY HERO is pleased to announce that our reporter, Slater, was honored with an Earth Trustee Award at the United Nations Peace Bell Garden in New York City on Earth Day. While there, she shared a beautiful mural, which was created by street children from the Funkor Art Center in Islamabad, Pakistan, compliments of the Art Miles Mural Project.


Author Info

Artist, visionary, and community activist, Joanne Tawfilis was honored at the 4th annual MY HERO Short Film Festival, November 22, 2008 in Southern California as a PEACEMAKER. Ms. Tawfilis is the founder of the Art Miles Mural Project, an international movement promoting global peace and harmony through mural art. The project will ultimately culminate in the creation of a pyramid in Egypt from 12 miles of murals to celebrate the International Day of Peace, 2010.

Click here to listen to the Art Miles Mural Project story.
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