Bio:

John Noltner has been telling stories with words and images for twenty years for national magazines, Fortune 500 companies, and non-profit organizations. His work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Forbes Magazine, Midwest Living, and the New York Daily News, among other publications.

Throughout his career, Noltner has managed logistics for editorial and commercial clients, both nationally and internationally, having worked on three continents. Noltner carefully arranges details and builds relationships with his clients, using humor, understanding, and compassion to craft compelling and insightful stories.

Since 2009, Noltner has been asking people the simple (or not so simple) question, “What does peace mean to you?” for his multimedia arts project, A Peace of My Mind. He has driven 40,000 miles across the country, meeting with diverse subjects, photographing them, and recording their personal stories exploring the meaning of peace. He has included the voices of Holocaust survivors, the homeless, undocumented immigrants, convicted criminals, political refugees and others. The series has been produced as two award-winning books and four exhibits that travel the country. A Peace of My Mind has been presented at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum, The Sojourners Summit for Change, Everyday Democracy, the Peace and Justice Studies Association, the Gandhi-King Conference on Nonviolence and the Dayton International Peace Museum. 

A Peace of My Mind represents Noltner’s belief that art and storytelling have the power to transform our hearts as well as our communities.

Programs:

Exhibits

A Peace of My Mind offers two traveling exhibits that can be used as the centerpiece for public programming in schools, civic organizations and faith communities. The content of each exhibit is drawn from the stories found in the project’s first book. Each subject is featured with a large black and white portrait, a brief biography, and a passage from their interview.

Gallery Exhibit

The original exhibit is designed as a formal gallery exhibit, consisting of 52 canvas gallery wraps, each 24” wide and 36” high. This gallery exhibit ships by commercial carrier to any destination, arrives in four custom crates and is installed by the venue according to simple enclosed instructions. The gallery exhibit typically leases for 4-week displays and requires 120 – 150 feet of available wall space.

Portable Display Banners

New in 2014, A Peace of My Mind now offers a second exhibit, produced as portable display banners. Featuring the same content as the book and the gallery exhibit, the portable display banners are free-standing, easy to set up, and can quickly transform any space for presentations and workshops. Each of the 52 banners is 34” wide and 78” high. The format is flexible and the pieces can be displayed in a space from 1,000 – 5,000 square feet, depending on layout. The display banner exhibit is typically delivered and installed by the artist and is designed for intensive 1-day retreats and workshops, to 4-week installations that provide the artwork as centerpiece for longer themes and extended programming. The portable display banners also feature QR codes on each panel that can be scanned with a smart phone, linking viewers directly to each subject’s online podcast.

Keynote presentations

A 20-40 minute multi-media keynote presentation can be tailored to the specific needs of your group. The keynote addresses draws on the wisdom of the stories in A Peace of My Mind, The 6-year journey of creating the project and the importance of creating positive change in the world. The keynote can be supplemented with audience participation and readings, live music (drawn from your community or provided), and a question and answer period at the end.

Workshops & Breakouts:

Workshops

John Noltner is trained in dialogue facilitation through the Project on Civic Reflection and can lead panel discussions on a range of topics. Panel members can be drawn from your own community or brought in from outside based on your group’s needs and interests. Panel topics may include the following:

  • Interfaith dialogue
  • The history of nonviolent movements
  • Using art as a vehicle for social change
  • The economics of peace vs. war
  • Civic responsibility
  • Civil dialogue for difficult subjects
  • Engaging your community for positive change
  • The transformative power of stories
  • Restorative Justice
  • Service
  • Finding good in our adversaries
  • Finding peace in the midst of turmoil

Writing workshops

Writing workshops with accompanying dialogue can be a powerful method for groups to explore their own thoughts about peace. From one-hour “flash writing” exercises to in-depth, full-day workshops, writing can help explore and clarify ideas that have not been fully articulated in the past. Accompanied by guided dialogue, these workshops can unlock new understanding for individuals and among groups.

Artist residencies

Multi-day residencies allow communities to engage with the artist in a variety of settings, from structured classroom visits to informal gatherings and receptions. The interdisciplinary nature of the project allows for meaningful engagement with students in art, philosophy, history, civics, sociology, religious studies, and other disciplines.

Facilitated story gathering

Communities can engage deeply with A Peace of My Mind by using the project as a model for their own explorations. Several venues have gathered stories from their own circles to create parallel projects. The artists has set up portable studios to include stories from your campus. Through mentoring and training exercises, groups will become familiar with interviewing and editing techniques and be guided through the process of creating their own oral history project. The experience is a powerful lesson in listening and storytelling. Culminating in a public performance / reading, these workshops hold the potential to build understanding and compassion in your community.

A Peace of My Mind restored my faith in humanity and my hope for justice.

University of North Dakota - Grand Forks

A Peace of My Mind invites people to consider how they are a part of
bringing peace to our world. The hopeful message and powerful images help us believe we can each be a part of something important, right where we are.

University of North Dakota

John’s display is truly an experience. Walking through the stories of
individuals is beyond moving and inspiring. John has truly captured a rare glimpse of humans at their most vulnerable, and the display is truly an experience worth remembering.

NACA Nationals

John’s work is amazing and very important for the times we live in! If we are to find PEACE in our time, we must embrace this project and help share A Peace Of My Mind to as many people in as many places as possible!

Memphis Theological Seminary

I have now been involved with hosting two versions of “A Peace of My Mind” at two different locations – a public library and a state college. John is very passionate about his work, and his passion radiates through the exhibit and his message. If you host the exhibit, be sure you take advantage of him giving a talk or presentation to anyone and everyone you can find. He’s an exceptional speaker and photographer and his exhibition will leave a lasting impression on those privileged to view it.

University of Arkansas – Pulaski