You may already know that The Art of Saving Humanity is a one-woman-run grassroots organization that collects used art supplies from the community and redistributes them to locally resettled refugees, but did you know that’s only a small part of what goes on?
In between art supply solicitations, collections and distributions, between art therapy workshops, classes and exhibitions, between social media promotions and articles, I am busy meeting in-person with refugee artists to pursue event venue opportunities, design websites and business cards, assist with filling out artist residency applications, and help with grant proposal writing.
People often marvel at why I would do this for no apparent payback.
This is not a one-sided operation, however. There isn’t an artist participating in this program who accepts help without giving back in some big way. Despite my eager willingness to give my all, I rarely get far without being inundated with goodwill, friendly gestures and gifts of meals and handmade crafts. In return for knitting supplies, I’ve received a bushel of freshly harvested beans; for weaving supplies, a brightly woven basket; for websites, the payment seems to always be hot, home-cooked, amazing meals. Despite my insistence that the artists should receive 100% of any sales proceeds, the topic always comes up that they would rather I take a commission for my troubles. I haven’t budged on that last point, but I can see I’ll need to soon, as I don’t ever want to make anyone feel like a charity case. These are brilliant, talented, motivated creative thinkers, survivors, and entrepreneurial spirits, and I admire them all so greatly.
We are equals, navigating this path of second chances and artistic self-sustainability together - and in one of the costliest, most competitive art scenes around. Our progress is slow, but relentless and filled with hope. We’ve become family and confidantes, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I went into this project hoping to give of myself, in a selfish way, so that I could feel I was contributing to humanity in some small sense. So that I could feel good about myself, really. It has evolved into something so much richer and more meaningful. I’ve gained a global community of incredibly diverse like-minded souls - artists, donors, partners, and volunteers alike.
In short, I set out like Don Quixote on a misguided mission to save humanity. To my surprise, humanity has been saving me, in a time when I never would have imagined that was possible.