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#ThrowBackThursday: The Wall of Drawings at the 2018 Parliament

Written by Deborah Koff-Chapin
November 6, 2019

Parliament convenings bring together thousands of individuals committed to fostering a more peaceful, just and sustainable world. Often times, individuals and communities are inspired by the spirit and mission of the convenings. Attendees have enjoyed countless inspirational exhibits, displays, and art in Parliament’s hosted around the world.
You might have enjoyed watching the beautiful mandalas created by Buddhist monks at the 2015 Parliament in Salt Lake City, or left in awe of the Portraits of Faith exhibit at the 2018 Parliament in Toronto.
On this #ThrowBackThursday, in celebration of the first anniversary of the 2018 Parliament of the World’s Religions which was hosted from November 1st through November 7th in Toronto, Canada, we share a special piece from one of the individuals who commit their time, resources and art to the Parliament experience.
Deborah Koff-Chapin is the Founder of the Center for Touch Drawings and the artist behind the wall gallery of touch drawings at the 2018 Parliament. Deborah shares her story and commitment to the Parliament.

Inspiring A Common Sense of Humanity
by Deborah Koff-Chapin

‘Touch Drawing’ has been my core creative art form since coming upon it in a moment of creative awakening in 1974. It is a simple yet profound process. Move your fingertips on paper that has been placed over a layer of paint. Lift the sheet and see impressions from your touch on the underside. Touch Drawing enables a direct transmission of the psyche onto the page. I teach it as an integral medium for healing, therapy and spiritual development.

In the early years I used Touch Drawing for personal expression. But after a while, my images began to tap a more transpersonal level. I no longer felt the need to draw for my own clearing, and felt more energized when drawing in service. One of the ways I have found inspiration is to sit in the presence of authors, visionaries and social change agents at conferences, and draw as they speak. As I listen, I translate their thoughts and the feeling-tones they evoke into images. The immediacy of Touch Drawing allows me to stay in the flow of content, creating 6-7 drawings per hour. Since beginning this approach in 1982, I have developed an archive of images that carry the essence of an emerging cultural evolution. I used to keep a running list of the different people I had drawn for. I stopped counting at 500 – and that was many years ago!
While drawing at a conference in 2003, someone mentioned the Parliament of the World’s Religions. Those words came alive within me. I knew no more about it, but from that moment I had a sense that this great gathering of World Religions would be among the most significant events I could draw for. Years later I heard the Parliament would be in Salt Lake City. My proposal to draw that year was accepted, and it was again in Toronto. It has been such a joy to immerse myself in this diverse gathering of humanity. It is an event that carries a fiery hope for the world in this time of increasing challenge. Simply walking the halls of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, I feel goodwill radiating from people of all cultures, races and religions. It’s such a blessing to be a part of this event.
When I drew in Salt Lake City, barely anyone saw the drawings I was creating. But when I arrived in Toronto, there were panels set up for my drawings in the entry to the main hall; a seemingly endless wall to fill.
I sat on the floor next to the stage during the plenary sessions and assemblies. With my drawing board propped on a small box, I rolled paint onto the board and placed a sheet of paper upon it. I listened with my whole body and being to whoever was presenting in the moment. Following the impulse I felt in their presence, I would bring one image after another into form through the touch of my fingertips.  I created 12-18 drawings during each plenary or assembly.
I happened to be sitting right in front of the seats reserved for presenters. I felt blessed by quiet support from these dedicated, wise souls. It was especially helpful as this was like running a marathon: seven consecutive days of drawing, over three hours each morning and about two and a half hours each evening. I was the last one out each night, as I stayed after to hang the drawings from the day. The escalators were turned off by the time I departed each night.
In the course of the week the ‘endless wall’ was filled with 168 Touch Drawings. I created online galleries with all of the drawings from both Parliaments, plus a few photos and video clips. I hope the images can serve to re-inspire the sense of common humanity so enlivened when we are together at the Parliament. I invite you to take some quiet time to gaze at a few of them. If you feel moved, write the thoughts and insights that arise in you. You are welcome to post an image with your writing on social media. If you see an image that could provide graphic communication for your organization or project, please contact me. I would love for these images to serve the Parliament community.
Scroll down for links to the 2015 and 2018 online galleries to see all the drawings



2015 Parliament Gallery

2018 Parliament Gallery