My friend and co worker is married to Gabriel Bol Deng, who is a grown Lost Boy from South Sudan. He has a non-profit organization called Hope for Ariang, his home village in that country. He has been raising money for and building a school, digging wells, and helping to educate and provide economic stability for the women of his home village with the funds he has raised. A second organization called the Canvas Peace Project collects artwork based on the theme of raising up the economic and educational status of women in that region, and then donates the profits to Hope for Ariang. My friend told me about the Canvas Peace Project and asked me to create a work of art for it.
The image is of a sunrise or sunset, which represents the transition from traditional role to a new paradigm. The female figure is also off balance, a side effect of change is that it off sets the balance of things, but in this case she is spinning in circles filled with joy at the transition and its impact on her and her child. She is pregnant, her fertility is not only not effected by her education but she is full of fertility. She wears a belt which has the word Transforming in it. I chose a yellow collage paper because of one of Gabriel’s friends, Valentino Deng, in his collaborative book What is the What, spoke of the yellow dress his mother wore, and I put this in as a nod to his efforts to raise money for a secondary school in his home village. The baby has wings and the wings are made up of text from a book called The Education of a Woman, it is her education which gives the child wings. The dress of the woman is made up of images from an article about the Lost Boys in a June 1992 issue of Life Magazine. The baby is also made up of images of the dirt floor school room in the article, and behind the child’s head is the sunlight streaming through the window of that school, a symbol of the light of grace that comes from an educated child. She wears black and white beads, a tradition in South Sudan that shows the wealth of the female by the number of cows she has, but is a symbol here of the economic stability that also comes from her education.
I included for her head an image of a child from one of the refugee camps whose head was wrapped in a blanket and he was peering out from it, I felt that this was the basis of her education through the Hope for Ariang Foundation. The suffering of those children and the people of South Sudan is the soul and the secret spirit of what has created this new hope.