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A Virtual Encounter Between Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Audrey Meyer-Munz: A Conversation betwee

Audrey: Dr. King, it is a real honor to meet you.

Dr. King: Thank you! The honor is mine. I noticed that you designed a huge chair, in 2008, that has my quotation on it: “Hate is too great a burden to bear. I have decided to stick to love.”

Audrey: Yes, indeed!

Dr. King: What is it about? Why did you choose this sentence?

Audrey: My two-meter-high chair stands witness to a crucial subject in our region: The issue of making peace. I was chosen to be one of twenty-four artists who were asked to debate the question: “What are we willing to do to end the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict?” Each artist was invited to create one big chair, which would be included in a rotating exhibition in Rabin Square, in the center of Tel Aviv. The exhibition, titled, “Until White Smoke Will Come Out,” was an allusion to sitting around the table for negotiations, and working toward peace.

"Hate is too great a burden to bear. I decided to stick to love."

The meaning of this mosaic work, called “Intended Need,” is that we can make peace only if we mean it. Your sentence expresses, first and foremost, the feeling of being fed up. Let’s put aside the hate and bring on communication and love. The symbols on the chair represent interaction and togetherness: the symbols of the fingan and the Kiddush cup, the combined gathering of the colors of the Palestinian and Israeli flags, and the dome with lines converging toward a common denominator.

Making a mosaic chair is also a metaphor in and of itself. A mosaic is a time-consuming process—which is what the peace process and its implementation require.

"Lines converging toward a common denominator."

Dr. King: Well, I have said this in the past: “Life's most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

Audrey: It is time for the moderate majority to take a stand for peace; it is time to raise our voices and to make a bold commitment to end the conflict. The chair’s messages demonstrate that there should be serious intentions. This importance of the exhibition is its message that we need to sit around the table, with hard work, and strive for hope between two peoples. The shovel I added across the chair is a symbol for digging in, to put effort and hard work toward a real and genuine peace process. Balance and justice will prevail when two peoples live in such a way that they can obtain education, enjoy a level of prosperity, etc.

"It is time for the moderate majority to take a stand for peace."

Dr. King: I would like to reinforce what you just said: “True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.”

Audrey: When I read your sentence, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase,” I felt how strongly this applies to my work as an artist. It is so inspiring. This sentence has had a real impact on me, because this is the same feeling that hits me when I start a mosaic artwork. I can hardly see what it is going to become. As an example, one of my latest works, done under the guidance of Marcelo de Melo, is called “Crowdfunding.” It was the very first time I chose to work with ceramics with lines on them. As much as I wanted to be constructive, I could not. The lines turned out not to be a factor of direction; they became a cause of deviations and diversions. You seem to take one specific road and you do not know where you are going to end up. It is like starting a new venture with all of its risks and surprises.

Crowdfunding - 2014

Dr. King: Once, I said: “Seeing is not always believing.”

Audrey: Right. That is true. When I traveled to Kyoto, Japan, during the cherry blossom period, I could not believe my eyes. The flower blossoms popped out with such variety and strength that it was hardly believable, because the weather out there was bordering on freezing. The contrast I felt was depicted in my work, “5th Season,” a work that expresses contrasting messages of temperatures, colors and feelings—i.e., an icy atmosphere with blossoming cherry trees, stark white colors with warm pinks, and the discrepancy between what I saw and what I felt.

Audrey: Dr. King, you are such an inspirational public figure that I felt I had to make a portrait of you.

I portrayed you during your famous speech, “I have a dream,” when you claimed, “I have seen the Promised Land.” Your speech had a worldwide impact, not only a national one. You were not just addressing your nation; you were addressing the entire globe.

I would like to highlight some ideas that I captured in this work, and that reflect the specific moment when the photograph was taken—the photograph on which my work was based.

Since black people have also been known as “people of color,” I had no question about gathering a pool of eight colors for the depiction of your skin. The expression of this multitude of colors on your face and hands is my interpretation of your ambition, your passion for your own beliefs. You have an immense talent for putting words together, and although you were talking about your own conditions and the conditions of your peers, you were not only addressing America − you were sharing messages that were universal. To me, it felt like many colors were flowing through your veins, since you were very strong in your beliefs and dreams.

The Scene - 2011

I deliberately created a background that is richly loaded and colorful. My choice was to render a background that symbolizes the large numbers of viewers and listeners, making your audience something vivid. There was a big crowd present at your speech, but there was also a crowd that was way beyond the microphones. Your words were of concern not only for one nation, but for the entire world.

The large number of microphones could not portray the impact of this speech of a lifetime; something beyond the visible had to appear. You wanted your speech to echo around the world. Your biggest desire was to bring your noble message forward. Your voice had to be heard, far beyond the farthest frontiers. Two mouths metaphorically reflect the impact that you wanted to make.

Dr. King, in this photograph, I see a moment of pure intensity and electricity.

Thank you for sharing this time with me.

Dr. King: Thank you, my dear, for sharing how you were inspired by my work.

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