Ten graffiti artists from around the world are traveling to Israel to transform abandoned, former Jordanian military barracks near Kalia Beach at the Dead Sea into canvases for imaginative murals.
The mission, set to coincide with Earth Day, is set against a backdrop of a wave of terrorism and political turmoil in Israel.
The artists, set to arrive on April 16, hail from Argentina, Paraguay, Greece, Portugal, South Africa, Spain and the United States. An artist from Ukraine was planning to come but was unable due to Russia's invasion. The group was assembled by Artists 4 Israel (A4I), a nonprofit that became internationally known during the first war with Gaza for painting the bomb shelters of Sderot into refuges for residents who were being barraged by thousands of rockets hitting their homes.
Craig Dershowitz, founder of A4I said: "While my organization exposes artists to Israel -- all of it, from the beauty of Jerusalem to areas that have been racked by war -- our mission is humanitarian, not political. In the Middle East, the desert blooming has always been a symbol of healing. We are making the desert bloom with art."
James Gillette, an artist from Los Angeles participating in the trip expressed excitement. "The incredible history and mysteriousness of this place is mind blowing," he said. " "I want be a part of that history by leaving paintings as gifts to the landscape."
Saving the Dead Sea
The artists intend to finish their murals in time for Earth Day, April 22, noting they hope the project will draw attention to dangers facing the Dead Sea, one of the greatest natural wonders of the world which is rapidly disappearing.
The water level of the lowest point of Earth is dropping close to 4 feet every year, with the main part of the sea now two-thirds smaller than it was just 50 years ago.
Last year, Israel and Jordan agreed on a joint project to rehabilitate the Jordan River and refill the Dead Sea. But so far, no concrete actions have been taken and many fear the deal will be called off as tensions rise between the two countries.