Images by Sorell Tsui, courtesy of UN Dispatch
Artist Zio Ziegler has painted a 135-foot mural in Oakland, California to mark the 70th anniversary of the United Nations Charter, which was signed in the state 70 years ago today.
Ziegler spent three days painting the mural, which covers one side of the 26-storey, flatiron-shaped Cathedral building in the West Coast port city. The artwork is designed to reflect the ideals of the UN and its 17 sustainable development goals, a set of global targets that will inform its policies over the next 15 years. (Goals include eradicating poverty, ensuring gender equality and making education available to all, and are an extension of the organisation’s millennium development goals set out in 2000).
In an interview with UN Dispatch, Ziegler said he wanted the artwork to be “pan cultural”, addressing people of every nationality. The image, which depicts a woman sitting on a chair and holding a dove, is painted in colourful patterns inspired by folk art and imagery from around the world.
“I wanted to address all these different cultures; and to address people, prosperity and planet…clean water, justice and housing for all. But how do I address that in one simple image? What I kept coming back to is the clothing of the figure being a composite of all different patterns from tonnes of different countries and skin tones of every ethnicity,” he says.
The varying skin tones in the woman’s face also represent the idea of global identity and a shared responsibility, says Ziegler, who describes the figure as “a mother earth figure, which is a composite of all its children.” The image features four doves, and Ziegler says he was particularly inspired by Picasso’s 1949 work, Dove of Peace, when working on the mural. “For me, the most iconic image of the UN is the Picasso dove. It has a simplicity and elegance to it that is so strong,” he adds.
Ziegler has created several large-scale murals around San Francisco as well as large-scale artworks for Google and Facebook, which feature similarly intricate patterns. He also designed a clothing and shoe collection for Vans, and is holding an exhibition of his fine art work at Soze Gallery in Los Angeles this weekend until July 20.
The mural was completed earlier this month, but will be officially launched at a ceremony in Oakland this afternoon. California company Bazooka Mama Productions has put together a timelapse of the mural being painted, which you can watch below. It’s a striking artwork, and a powerful reminder of the UN’s ideals of peace, inclusivity and equality.