The United Nations has announced its first-ever fine artist in the role of goodwill ambassador, as reported in this wonderful article and slideshow in the New York Times. Abstract painter Ross Bleckner worked with a group of children in Uganda who had been abducted into war and forced to commit horrific acts; they made 200 paintings to be sold to benefit the UN's programs to help these children.
I don't know if a week of painting can save children who have been subjected to so much violence, but it might help them, and as Bleckner attests, it will build awareness:
"Mr. Bleckner said that when United Nations officials first approached him, they asked him whether he thought art could perform a useful role in drawing attention to the plague of human trafficking, which they said still receives too little attention, despite the widespread use of children in many conflicts in Africa.
“And I said to them that if art can’t perform a role like that, then it has no role at all,” he said on Tuesday."
Bleckner calls his project "microcreativity," in the spirit of micro-loans and other efforts to effect change at a very local level: “What this mission accomplished is what I call microcreativity,” Mr. Bleckner wrote in a catalog of the children’s work. “It is a personal interaction which gives someone the tools to create something that they can be proud of, and which can help them on the arduous path to restoring their dignity and sense of self-worth.”
Often it seems as if our little stabs at creativity can't possibly mean much, but in this context of microcreativity - a great word and concept of adding drops to an ever-growing ocean that can change the world - it's a whole different story, isn't it?
Photo: Anna Rosario Kennedy/United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime