Sunday, February 10, 2013

Visioneer’s Gallery: Project Paz

By Baldev Duggal Published in The Business of Photography
The Project Paz exhibition in New York.
The Project Paz exhibition in New York.

One of the pictures in the show pays beautiful homage to Mexico—carnations in vintage style, shot by designer Derek Lam, who states, "I love carnation flowers; they are ornate, over-the-top beautiful, optimistic flowers. They are full of life, like Mexico and her people."

The auction also featured work by numerous emerging and established contemporary artists, including Marcela Zacarias, GT Pellizzi and Ray Smith, Miya Ando and Kat Kohl, who's an employee of Duggal.

These works, all donated by the designers and artists, were auctioned to benefit Ampliando el Desarrollo de los Niños (ADN), an organization that supports after-school programs for children living in marginalized areas in Juarez to create a safe place for them to learn rather than fall victim to gang violence. Urias said that the organization selected ADN to benefit from the evening's sales because it wants to invest in the future of Juarez: its children.

"Part of the reason why Juarez is going through what it's going through is lack of institutional support and, most importantly, a lack of investment in social development," he says. "There is a lot to do in terms of investing in the people and in grassroots programs. If you help the future of Juarez, you start attacking the problem by its roots versus just trying to address the immediate issue.

"The solution needs to come from everybody," he adds. "Just because you are in New York or have no connection whatsoever to Juarez, that doesn't mean that you should sit on your hands and not do anything. There's a lot of things that you can do, even small things, from showing up to the event or buying art helps get the message across."

This "message" has already benefitted 3,000-plus children in Juarez, a precious gift of hope and renewal indeed.

There's something about interacting with art linked to a cause that does more than just create moments of transcendence for the viewer. Such shows bring everyone involved in the creation of such an event under a shared umbrella of humanity through which it becomes possible to connect with and reach out to invisible communities in remote parts of the world. There's no dearth of issues that need addressing in the world. But when we think of them collectively, we're bound to feel utterly helpless about our role in contributing in any way. Shows like these allow us to reflect on a specific problem at hand in a specific way, enabling us to make tangible both the problem and a small part of the solution and become directly connected with the communities affected.

As with all projects for social causes that we're proud to be involved with, Project Paz allowed us to reach beyond our comfort zones and contribute meaningfully with the conviction that each such event restores the faith of one child, one family, one city in all of humanity. The painter Georges Braque once famously exclaimed, "Art is a wound turned into light." Indeed, this project is one such concentration of light that has gone as a ray of powerful hope to the citizens of Juarez.

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