May 2011, Durham NC, “art & advocacy : street children have a voice”

May 26th, 2011

Opening Reception: April 20, 2011

Exhibit: April 20 – May 11, 2011

Monkey Bottom Collaborative (aka: MoBo)

609 Trent Drive, Durham, NC 27705

Gallery Owners: Joe galas & Diane Freund

919 475 1943

I want to give a special thanks to everyone, my friends, friends of MoBo, and Piepushers all for showing up and spending time looking at the photography and artwork. An extra special thanks to Dianne Freund and her husband Joe Galas (MoBo Gallery owners) for believing in me and my work, to Stephen Beck and Don Raleigh for providing a wonderful live string band for the show, to Tony Pearce for the use of his inkjet printer & for photos of the show, and to Eddie McNeeley for helping me hang & host the show.

The end goal of this exhibit is to promote and protect child rights around the world. This gallery and people who promote the artwork and words of these children are taking a part in helping the voices of these children to be heard. If not for giving them the opportunity to put their words and art on paper, we would not know their struggles, needs, hopes, and desires for their lives.

As a local advocacy campaign effort beginning in October 2010, nine venues in Lira, Uganda hung a total of twelve posters which are compilations of the stories and artwork of 6 street kids from Lira. The artwork and stories were produced by the children and recorded in September 2010. I hope to have a traveling exhibit of this work around the U.S., Uganda, and other countries. Please visit my earlier blog posts where I reported from each day of the workshop:

Day 1 :: Camera and Storytelling Essentials

Day 2 :: Storyboards

Day 3-5 :: Prints, Narrative, Guest Photographer

Story Exhibit in Lira

The opt-in 1-week+ workshop I led included teaching street children about telling stories through words and images. I taught the basic story arc and how to take a photograph. I also introduced them to the internet. Most kids had never seen it before, though they knew the concept of a computer (CRO had a computer). They were allowed to tell any story through photos, illustrations, and art. They were given a disposable camera, which they kept for one day. They presented their top five photos to the class, and described their story board illustrations to me in an interview style. CRO provided a translator the entire workshop.

This exhibit IS a fundraiser. At this point this project has been entirely self-funded. Everything hanging on the wall, whether my work or the work of the kids (with their permission) is for sale. You can pay more than the asking price! Or you can donate towards the cause! The profit from sales will be wired directly by me to Child Restoration Outreach in Lira, Uganda. If you buy one framed work, the cost of the frame/print will be deducted, and the remainder is what CRO gets. Funds will be used for vocational training and educational purposes, first and foremost for the children whose artwork you are seeing.

I believe that the artwork and stories you see here would work well in book form. So eventually I’ll need an editor and publisher! As well, I would like to create a website solely for promoting this project. I have also talked in depth with two Ugandans about producing a documentary film on street kids in Uganda. The first man, Caleb Rucondo, is a former street kid since the age of 7yrs. He personally runs a group home for homeless children in Uganda. By invitation, Caleb has spoken to the US Congress about the problem of street kids. The second man, Eddie Bbira, is a Ugandan artist I met in 2007. His art is being sold internationally, even here in Raleigh. Eddie is just now completing a graduate program in art therapy in the UK and is looking to establish an organization that incorporates art therapy into working with street children. If you have any recommendations or ideas on avenues I should pursue to make these goals happen – please let me know.

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