Project HOPE Art began in the fall of 2010 from the creative brain of Melissa Schilling. After reading a NYT article on the desperate state affairs in Port-au-Prince Haiti nearly a year after the devastating earthquake in January 2009, she was inspired to bring some joy and positive energy to the children of Port-au-Prince. Her idea was to bring art supplies to the children living in tent cities and create a week of whimsy using art as a form of stress relief and self-expression. Artist and art teacher Jenni Ward was the first team member to be brought on board. Amanda Luu, a graphic designer and Jacq Knapp, a returned Peace Corps volunteer and pre-medical student then joined the team. Julie Ulm, a former resident of Haiti rounded out the group of women as our translator. We aimed to raise $5500 through a Kickstarter campaign platform, in 60 days we raised $7261. And we were on our way to Haiti for 10 days of creative adventures using “art as the universal language”!
HOPE Art worked with the Wings over Haiti school in Croix de Bouquet, Project Medishare, Angels of Light Orphanage and a slew of neighborhood children living in tent cities. The project was so successful that the group was already planning the next trip and future fundraising possibilities.
Once they returned to the states, the women reorganized themselves and started the plans for a Voodoo fundraising dinner in San Francisco at Coffee Bar with The Jetset Chef Alex Marsh. This event combined with a few smaller fundraising events financially prepared the group for the August 2012 trip. At this point Amanda Luu left the group but we gained art teacher and serious blogger Kathy Barbro.
Loaded with art supplies from Dick Blick and hand sanitizer from Cleanwell we head to Haiti for 16 days. This trip was focused on working with OJFA (Organization for Young Girls in Action in French) or Nadine’s orphanage as it is commonly called in Port-au-Prince which was walking distance from the Hotel Oloffson and exploring the art scene in the beach town of Jacmel. In Jacmel, we worked with Caleb Midi at Angel Ministries, Kara Lightfoot at The Haiti Initiative, the community of Bassin Blue and the Creation Foundation-over 250 kids plus an artists exchange at the Fosaj Gallery with director Prince Luc. This was possible thanks to Davis Ames, the director of From Gainesville with Love acting as our host and guide. We left Haiti with plans to return in six months for more art activities and a long-term plan to create an art center in conjunction with Nadine’s orphanage.
Stay tuned for more HOPE Art adventures and thank you for your support!