Kosovo artists collaborate with Coloradans

BATAK CENTER FOR EUROPEAN STUDIES -- The picturesque Rifle Falls provided some much needed down time Thursday for some special visitors from Eastern Europe. An unusual scene took place as artists from Kosovo and locals congregated at the base of the falls to capture its beauty with easels and brushes.

The visitors are gathering on the Western Slope as a part of the Colorado-Kosovo Culture and Art Exchange. The project, 10 years in the making, has a simple goal: Creating beauty, encouraging empathy and fostering reconciliation through cultural exchange, public mural projects, art education and community investment.

Mary Wade helped start the project many years ago. As part of a trip with New Hope Church in Rifle, Wade visited the Balkans in 2005. After meeting several artists in Kosovo on a side trip, an idea was born to bring Colorado artists to Kosovo. The first cultural exchanged happened the following year. The Coloradans collaborated with Kosovar Albanians to paint a mural in Viti, Kosovo. At the time, the project was unique and groundbreaking.

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