Friday, May 7, 2010

All Art Friday

All Art Friday

Laurel True's Art Project for Haiti

Art, it's been shown time and again, does more than beautify and inspire. It builds skills; it creates community; it helps heal. Few better know the truth of the statement that "art matters" than mosaic artist and educator Laurel True, who for more than two decades has been facilitating community art projects in Ghana, West Africa. 

Now True is turning her attention to the island nation of Haiti for which she has conceived an art project that will bring joy and renewed optimism where tragedy and sorrow have lingered too long.

True's project is to be undertaken in June in Jacmel, a historic and much-celebrated town that sustained enormous damage during this past January's earthquake. A collaborative effort with the nonprofit  Art Creation Foundation for Haitian Children, the project will bring together local youth and young adults, as well as Haitian and American artists, to create a large centrally located mosaic mural that, as envisioned by True, will become a memorial to the thousands of lives lost in the earthquake and an affirmation that rebuilding and recovery and healing are possible. 

True estimates that designing and creating the mural, which is to depict an ancestral tree and honor  the sea, sky, and spirits, will cost at least $4,800. She says the project cannot begin unless at least that much funding is pledged by June 1. Through Kickstarter, one of a number of such sites created to "crowd source" the funding necessary to carry out creative ideas and ambitious projects, True aims to raise the money needed for initial seeding and longer-term plans. The funds raised will cover travel, building of a concrete wall, and all materials, supplies, and incidentals, including the purchase of a dozen sets of professional mosaic tools (these will be donated to development of a future mosaic program) and tents and tarps (because housing is unavailable).

All project materials will be sourced locally, including pieces of building materials found in the rubble left behind by the earthquake (ceramic tiles, concrete, glass, mirrors, and other items that can be recycled and re-purposed), and combined with shells and stones native to Jacmel or donated and brought to the mural's future site. The first phase will be devoted to skill-building and mosaic training that will provide skills that the youth and young adults involved in the project will be able to apply in future entrepreneurial initiatives. Follow-on phases may include creating a gathering place and seating area where residents and visitors can come to honor what's been lost and reaffirm their belief in the future.

To learn more about True's project, please watch this video and then go here for pledge information. (The minimum donation is $10.00. To make a pledge, use the green "Back This Project" button on the right menu.)

Glass Jewelry Exhibit

The Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft is presenting Glass Jewelry: An International Passion through July 17. Held in conjunction with the Glass Art Society's 40th Annual Conference in Louisville, the exhibition of work of 33 artists representing 10 countries demonstrates the sophisticated glasswork techniques now being used to create stunning jewelry of precious metals and gemstones. A complete list of exhibiting artists, with links to biographical information and examples of work, is here.

Feature on Artist Deborah Barlow

My friend the painter Deborah Barlow, about whom I wrote here, is the subject of a feature on the wonderful Design Squared. If you are not familiar with Deborah's stunning work, you are in for a treat. Deborah writes at Slow Muse; her Website is here.

Bearing Witness Through Art

Chris Jordan is an extraordinary photographer. Shortlisted for the Prix Pictet, exhibited widely in the United States and Europe, Jordan is known especially for his documentation of our throw-away society, of our relentless consumption and careless — even, I would say, arrogant — casting off of plastic bottles, plastic bags, discarded circuit boards from computers, and other and sundry detritus without regard to its catastrophic effects on our environment and, therefore, on ourselves. His book Running the Numbers: An American Self-Portrait (Prestel USA, 2009) provides one example of our culture of waste as captured in exquisite photographs. (The book is available on Jordan's Website and via resellers through Amazon.)

Most recently Jordan and a team of artists spent time on Midway Atoll, a remote and tiny island in the North Pacific, where they made photo after photo of albatross and their chicks dying (from starvation, toxicity, and choking) because the birds ingest plastic trash that gets carried to Midway's shores by the North Pacific Gyre — a.k.a. Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The animals' guts literally are filled with colorful plastic that is exposed as the birds decompose. (See photo below.) Every wave that comes to in brings unimaginable amounts of plastic, much of it in tiny invisible white chunks that become the food of the ocean and subsequently the island's fauna, and so much of it that the beaches never can be made clean. Trying to clean up, the team says, is to "feel just like Sisyphus", forever cursed to roll his boulder up a hill and watch it come back down. 

Go here for a deeply affecting interview Jordan gave to Brooke Jarvis of Yes! magazine in which he describes his and his team's project on Midway Atoll, the implications of the environmental destruction, and his own reactions to what he saw and recorded. He likens his experience to being in Dante's Inferno, saying in the interview that it was as though he'd "walked through the fire and then just burned up in it." Go here for another of Jarvis' articles on the project. 

Below is a video offering a glimpse of one of the worst human-made tragedies known. Watch it! We are all responsible for this. We all as stewards of our environment have an obligation to bring this to an end. Be outraged. . . but also be transformed. Be moved to act!

The Jordan team's blog about Midway is here. Jordan's TED talk is here. His  Website contains many other moving examples of his work, including his "Intolerable Beauty: Portraits of American Mass Consumption" and "In Katrina's Wake: Portraits of Loss from an Unnatural Disaster". 


Kathleen Overby said...

The word 're-purpose' is a good one. For many things.
I'm checking out your links. Thanks Maureen. I have to watch the video later. Looks so sad.

Anonymous said...

hi Mo :-)

jenne said...

I can't bear to see these birds, having done nothing for the past two decades but try to save animals...but, such a worthy endeavor to bring your followers up to speed on this. The mosaic project is fantastic. But more, I am ever impressed with how much of yourself you give. We have different ways of trying to understand human nature in certain respects-- I as you know investigate largely through the personal lense, writing in the first person and exploring Self and meaning, and you reach out to the larger world. Hope you'll repost poetry on our discussion soon. xj