‘Kid’s Helping Kids’ art exhibit in Edwards Friday
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The children’s colorful hand-drawn images tell the story of a country that’s in turmoil but hasn’t lost hope yet.
It’s been a year and a half since the earth shook Haiti and life is still in the throes of disrepair – more than half a million people live in tent cities and people are dying from a cholera epidemic. That instability is mimicked in a series of drawings on display at Alpine Arts Center in Edwards. A reception will begin at 5 p.m. Friday.
“When I first looked through the art, I saw typical children’s images: flowers, suns, people,” said Eagle resident Amanda Visosky, the event organizer. “Then I came across the hospital images and the people sick with cholera.”
Together, the nearly 80 drawings are a vivid picture of what Haiti is like now: “The angry natural environment, the hospitals with ill people, the Haiti flag and the happy picture of the school,” Visosky said. “It’s a story of devastation, pride in a country, and hope for the future.”
There is no doubt the conditions in Haiti are dire. However, amongst the hardship, the creative spirit of Haiti is alive and the art scene is flourishing, Visosky said. Haitian art is characterized by vibrant colors, symbolism and patterns and features images of social activities, markets and people. Sculptural art has also become a focus from wood and metal carvings to paper mache bowls. Today, in the tent city called Delmas 33, artisans are fashioning recycled paper into beads for bracelets and necklaces. The jewelry is being sold at Everyday Outfitters in Eagle and High Country Computers in Edwards.
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Visosky is participating in an international service project with the Engage Network 501c3, and has committed to raising $20,000 to implement humanitarian aid in Haiti. As part of her fundraising strategy she organized a children’s art project in Jacmel in July with an associate pastor from Indiana who brought back the art pieces after she took a group to Haiti this summer to volunteer.
“The arts are very strong in the Haitian culture and we wanted to highlight this and create a meaningful fundraising event,” Visosky said.
Though the Haitian children’s artwork isn’t for sale – Visosky plans to compile the pieces into a collage and return it to Haiti, she said – local students donated art work that is for sale. There will also be a silent auction featuring art from local artists, including a piece from well-known Eagle County oil painter Britten. There are also T-shirts, with a design made by combining the Haitian children’s images, for sale for $29, along with the bracelets – $10 each or three for $25. All the proceeds will go towards the rebuilding efforts in Haiti.
During tonight’s gallery reception, called “Kids Helping Kids,” attendees will have a chance to learn about an additional children’s service project called “Be the Change,” where children can donate their loose change to the cause. Children will have the opportunity at the event to decorate a jar to collect change.
In the past Visosky has volunteered closer to home, including for the local Arts in Healing programs, but she was drawn to help people abroad.
“While we have people suffering in our own country, most can get access to clean water and food,” she said. “Haiti is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere where the majority live in abject poverty, meaning they have no access to clean water or food.”
She connected with the Off the Mat Organization, which through its “Seva Challenge” asks people to raise money for communities in crisis and then do the sweat work to make the projects happen.
Lauren Merrill, the owner of Alpine Arts Center, has worked with Visosky before on art-based volunteer projects and was happy to help, she said.
“It’s great someone local is organizing something like this that has to do with art internationally, and is a fundraiser,” Merrill said.
“I liked the idea of raising money for projects I would complete,” Visosky said. “Each year the challenge supports a different country and this year it was Haiti. I felt particularly connected to Haiti because of the devastation after the earthquake and the great need, but also because of the strong tradition of the arts. I truly believe that the arts offer hope and a path to healing.”
High LIfe Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or firstname.lastname@example.org.