May 27, 2012 § Leave a comment
‘Brush with Hope,’ a project hosted by ‘Mtree,’ is an internationally-minded, non-profit charity that brings young professionals from New York City, Paris, and Seoul together, to teach art classes to children in Africa. Founder of ‘Brush with Hope,’ Young Hwan Choi explained, “We want to showcase the striking talents, hope, and innocence of these African children, because we see art as a powerful means to support the students for the long term. Using our talents, education, and job experience, we want to help these children find hope and fulfill their dreams in the midst of any dark situation they may face.”
On July 29, 2011, 21 well-trained artists and teachers affiliated with “Brush with Hope,” set out on a twelve day assignment in Dangbo, Ifangni, and Djeregbe, Benin, West Africa, a country with a population of 9 million. Each of the three villages had approximately 100 students participate in eight, 3 hour long art classes, where many of the students had never even seen a paint brush before that day. After a short lesson learning basic art techniques, the students were asked to express what hope is on canvas and paper. As can be imagined, the students were reluctant at first, scared that they might make a mistake, but as they became more comfortable, they were able to express themselves more freely, and the artwork came to life. In one project, the children listened to live music while painting. Based on the outcomes of the creations, experts wondered, where did they find such great inspiration from, as the results were astounding. The children admitted that the ‘Brush with Hope’ experience allowed them to “connect emotions to life,” and “helped to find color in my life.” The teachers came to Benin to teach art technique, however, they were rewarded with countless acts of love, in return. Jeemin Kim, who received her Master’s in Art Education stated, “It is amazing how these lively paintings are filled with stories and candid feelings from the children.”
“Celebrate the talents of 300 Beninese children (age 7-12), as they create paintings and drawings in a wide range of subjects derived from the children’s personal experiences, everyday life, thoughts and interests. Evoking the masterpieces of abstract expressionism or minimalism, the children’s works are vivacious and extraordinary in their native aesthetic sensibilities. Their visual narrative and story telling solely originate from the children’s playfulness, originality, and innocence.”
Everyone can take part in the ‘Brush with Hope,’ project and help even more children become familiar with art so that they may sculpt their identities and express their individuality! Everyone can help the students improve their lives, and their futures by donating art supplies, volunteering as an art teacher, purchasing a beautifully framed painting made by one of the students, or donating money directly to the cause. This year, “Brush with Hope,” is hoping to travel to Benin and Kenya with 70 teachers, to teach art to over 600 students, and is looking to raise $50,000 USD in order to accomplish this goal.
“All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once s/he grows up.” ~ Pablo Picasso
Article by Sharon Abella