CITIES OF PEACE: Transforming Anguish into Beauty

November 5 – December 14, 2007

Gallery Talk, and Reception
Thursday, November 8

Curated by:

Ellen Frank, Artistic Director, Ellen Frank Illumination Arts Foundation



In contrast to September 11, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and ongoing crises in the Middle East and Africa, the gold-illuminated CITIES OF PEACE paintings honor conflict-torn cities, their people, history, and traditions. The series of nine paintings includes works representing Jerusalem, Lhasa, Baghdad, Kabul, Beijing, and New York. CITIES OF PEACE emphasizes understanding as a prerequisite to peace and celebrates the best of the human spirit, transforming anguish into beauty.

Painted in egg tempera on Belgian linen with precious metals, the works evoke artistic traditions as diverse as illuminated manuscripts, icons, tapestries, embroidery, architectural mosaics, woodcarvings, and metalwork, celebrating arts unique to each city represented.  CITIES OF PEACE pays homage to traditional illuminated manuscript painting, but in monumental scale and in a broader context that is reflective of the contemporary art world.

CITIES OF PEACE was produced at the Ellen Frank Illumination Arts Foundation in East Hampton, New York, with interns from China, Korea, Colombia, Estonia, Japan, Poland, and the United States, under the artistic direction of Ellen Frank. The non-profit foundation was formed to revitalize, create, and exhibit illumined art, using historic and literary traditions to combine art and social justice, thereby promoting global peace and understanding.

Cities of Peace encourages us to acknowledge the grandeur of humankind’s creative powers, and the triumph of hope over the forces of darkness and entropy. These paintings are such exceptional communicative as well as aesthetic artifacts, and their wide visibility is a most salutary prospect.


Cities are the fount of civilization, the source of most of what is best in our world. Every effort must be made to encourage people to focus on that fundamental fact about cities, and to strive to preserve them and the values they embody. Cities of Peace helps serve that high purpose

Jeff Spurr
Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture,
Harvard University and MIT


There are uncountable connections between the arts and peace. Cities of Peace superbly promotes common values of humanity: ethics, intercultural dialogue and inner calm – all so overlooked in our world as tools, as language, for peace and peaceful co-existence.

Cities of Peace elicits positive energy while making a lasting impression as low-voiced contrasts to wars, to bombs, to destruction. Cities of Peaceshould not only be exhibited in New York or Geneva but in war zones, in schools and art halls, where they could give hope and inspiration.

Jan Oberg, Executive Director
Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research
Lund, Sweden


Ellen Frank, Artistic Director

The Cities of Peace Project was conceived of and is directed by Ellen Frank, Ph.D., EFIAF’s Artistic Director, who brings her accomplishments as scholar, writer and artist to the work.  Dr. Frank’s many awards in painting, book design, and scholarship include Fulbright and Ford Foundation fellowships, and grants from National Endowment for the Arts, Pollock-Krasner Foundation, New York State Council on the Arts, and New York Foundation for the Arts.  Ellen Frank studied art history at Yale University and holds an interdisciplinary doctorate in English Literature and the Visual Arts from Stanford University.


Ellen Frank Illumination Arts Foundation (EFIAF)

In 2004, Ellen Frank Illumination Arts Foundation (EFIAF), a 501 (C) (3), was formed to revitalize, create and exhibit illuminated art, using historic and literary traditions to combine art and social justice and thereby promote global peace and understanding. In 2005, EFIAF’s Peace Education Program, the Illumination Atelier, opened its doors, bringing together international youth from more than 13 countries, artists and scholars to research and create illuminations bridging ethnic and religious diversity and national identity. It is under the auspices of the Illumination Atelier that Cities of Peace illuminated paintings are researched, designed and created. The Illumination Atelier partners with “USArts and Training” designated by the United States State Department to sponsor trainees.