The Human Rights Painting Project: Statement

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My Human Rights Painting Project highlights the struggle for human rights the world over - and the important work that Amnesty International does in working towards this goal. Using a contemporary artistic voice, I interpret different aspects of the struggle for human rights, emphasizing the stories that bring it to life. Biographies of each person featured accompany the paintings.

The works themselves capture the range of emotions experienced in this battle. Fear, destitution and pain, as well as hope, joy and even sanguinity form themselves in these faces. Ultimately, the paintings bring together man's best and worst impulses - the heroes of the images are a counterpoint to the regimes and authorities that forced them into that role. We are left with the uncomfortable question of which group is more typical of our human race - and which the exception.

The paintings were inaugurated at the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington D.C., April 2002. President John J. Sweeney of the AFL-CIO, Dr. William Schulz, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA and Sowore Omoyele, a former prisoner of conscience, all spoke at the event. In addition, both Senator Paul Wellstone and Chinese democracy activist Wei JingSheng wrote letters of support that were included in the catalogue for the project.

Press coverage to date includes interviews on National Public Radio’s “Talk of the Nation;” WMFD TV, Mansfield, Ohio; Galway Bay FM (Ireland) 95.8; PeaceTalks FM, Calgary, Canada and on ArtScape, Channel 10, Frederick MD. In addition, there have been features on the project by Utne Magazine, Copley News Service, Baltimore Sun (MD), Gazette Newspapers (MD), Takoma Voice (MD), Style Weekly (Richmond, VA), Cumberland Times-Union (MD), Winston-Salem Journal (NC), Greensboro News and Record (NC), High Point Enterprise (NC), Lancaster Sunday News (PA), Galway Advertiser (Galway, Ireland), (OH), Madison Courier (IN), Sojourners Magazine, Fayetteville Morning News (AR), Manhattan Magazine (NY), as well as being chosen as “Pick of the Week” by the Washington Times, Washington Post, Style Weekly (Richmond, VA), Maryland Life Magazine, Maryland Public Television, and the Chicago Reader. The Takoma Park City Council (MD) passed a resolution in support of the project on April 8, 2002, while the Frederick County Commission (MD) passed a resolution of support on September 8, 2005. The Human Rights Painting Project has also received a Puffin Foundation (NJ) grant, a monetary award from the Nelson Talbott Foundation (MD), monetary support from Amnesty International and numerous private donations to fund various aspects of the project.

In addition to the inaugural show in Washington D.C., paintings from the Human Rights Painting Project have been exhibited at A.R.C. Gallery (IL), the Ratner Museum (MD), Ohio State University (OH), George Washington University (D.C.), Washington College (PA), Franklin and Marshall University (PA), ArtSpace (VA), Tessera Gallery (NC), Saville Gallery (MD), Hood College (MD), Prince George’s Community College (MD), Howard County Arts Center (MD), East Carolina University, (NC), Antioch College (OH), Dayton International Peace Museum (OH), Columbia University (NY), Washington Theological Union (DC), Hanover College (IN), Manhattan College (NY), University of Arkansas (AR), Johnson State College (VT) and the Irish Centre for Human Rights, Galway, Ireland.

Lastly, I have given talks on the project to students from colleges and universities around the country, as well as in conjunction with the Irish Centre for Human Rights, UNESCO Center for Peace, International Peace Research Association, Dayton International Peace Museum, Amnesty International, Peace and Justice Studies Association, Arts and Society International Conference and the Southeast College Art Conference.

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