One Million Bones at National Mall
By : Cynthia Lagrou
Artist activist and friend, Naomi Natale, founder of One Million Bones, is a big picture thinker. It's not everyday someone attempts to creativity engage us on such large scale issues as genocide. We are thrilled that her dream of producing one million hand made bones for display at the National Mall in Washington D.C. has become a reality this weekend. The One Million Bone installation creates a visual metaphor and petition against ongoing genocide and mass atrocities that will undoubtedly initiate a cultural meme inspiring meaningful conversation for time to come.

Naomi designed the large-scale installation that has, over the last three years, gathered students, artists, and concerned citizens from all over the country in creating bones out of clay, paper, glass, steel and other materials as a memorial to remember the victims and recognize the survivors who have been killed or displaced by ongoing genocides and humanitarian crises in Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, and Burma.

In total, Naomi has organized more than 100 workshops and installations nationwide, leading up to the three day Washington event. The bone making activities proved to be an inspiring and transformational experience for many. Participants in the process have also become informed advocates regarding historic as well as current ongoing genocides requiring our attention and action.

In an advocacy video for the project, Desmond Tutu points out the significance of the bones. "The symbol of the bone attests to the impermanence of life," he said. "But I believe they embody so much more. Bones are evidence of a unique individual journey -- each moment of hope and happiness, each dream and passion, each struggle experienced in a lifetime. But also the evidence of a collective journey, the stories shared and the human experience. Each individual's humanity is inextricably linked to one another's. We must raise each other up or else we all sink down."

The art display is also raising money for anti-genocide efforts. The Bezos Family Foundation matched each bone created by students with a $1 donation to support the work of CARE in Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo up to $500,000. All funds collected benefit the following organizations: ENOUGH; WOMEN for WOMEN INTERNATIONALand CARE.
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