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Tapestry Unveiled at Ellis Island to Honor John Lennon

August 3, 2015

A beautiful French tapestry was recently delivered to Ellis Island’s Immigration Hall, designed by Peter Sis, a Czech artist residing in New York. The tapestry, which shows the island of Manhattan as a yellow submarine, honors the late John Lennon. New York City proclaimed July 29th “John Lennon Day” 40 years after Lennon received his green card, and the tapestry was unveiled in the presence of his wife and Art for Amnesty supporter, Yoko Ono. Learn more about this occasion from Art for Amnesty founder Bill Shipsey:


The unveiling by U2’s Bono and the Edge of a giant 24′ x 11′ Aubusson tapestry, which was generously shipped for free by FedEx from France to the U.S., represents a big ‘thank you’ from Amnesty International to Yoko Ono for an incredibly generous gift – the right to record cover versions of her late husband’s ‘post-Beatles’ songs. To date, Amnesty has earned over $5 million in royalties from this project.

On another level however, the fact that the tapestry unveiling ceremony took place on Ellis Island, an island of hope and sometimes tears for over 12 million people who passed through its great hall between 1892 and 1954, seeking freedom and a better life, symbolizes the hope for a better life for over 60 million refugees and displaced persons around the world. People like you and me, who want peace, prosperity and safety for themselves and their families.

Amnesty International’s most famous ex-employee is Harry Potter creator JK Rowling. In her early 20’s, she ‘paid the rent’ working for Amnesty as a researcher in our Africa Department. She has described it as “one of the greatest formative experiences” of her life. And one that “informed much of what she subsequently wrote” in the Harry Potter books.

While working at Amnesty she also said that she “learned to value imagination in a much broader sense.”

“Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared.”

“And yet” she wrote, despite all the stories of torture and disappearances and cruelty, she “learned more about human goodness at Amnesty International than I had ever known before. Amnesty mobilizes thousands of people who have never been tortured or imprisoned for their beliefs to act on behalf of those who have. The power of human empathy, leading to collective action, saves lives, and frees prisoners. Ordinary people, whose personal well-being and security are assured, join together in huge numbers to save people they do not know, and will never meet. My small participation in that process was one of the most humbling and inspiring experiences of my life.”

U2’s Bono, who co-funded the tapestry with fellow band member The Edge and music producer and entrepreneur Jimmy Iovine, said it best in the final verse of the lyrics to U2’s now iconic song “One”.

“One love
One blood
One life
You got to do what you should
One life
With each other
Sisters Brothers
One life
But we’re not the same
We get to
Carry each other
Carry each other


    Brod Nicholls says:

    Looks absolutely beautiful and a wonderful work of art to celebrate so many good things about International music and culture.

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