When I was a child I lived in two worlds. The first world was a creative one, filled with music, a teeming treasure of sounds that stretched from church to nature. It included thunderous organ chords, melodious tube fiddles, and raspy frog choruses, to name a few. The other world I inhabited was more sober in nature, marked with political instability, hardships, and poverty. These two worlds came together in a loud cacophony that is my home country, Uganda.
“You know, life is romantic. All these things, the unity of the arts, food, and people coming together, to see a beautiful show or have a good meal, these are the joys that we are blessed with.”
- Francis Ford Coppola, an American film director, producer and screenwriter. He is most famous for his work on the The Godfather trilogy of films.
Globally, significant progress has been achieved in elevating the position and dreams of children. United Nations data show that mortality rates of chilren under 5 years of age have dropped by 49% from 1990 - 2013. Primary school enrollment in developing regions reached 90% in 2010, up from 82% in 1999, which means more kids than ever are attending primary school. However, it is also true that youth are three times more likely than adults to be unemployed, and over 350 million young people are not engaged in education, employment, or training.
The lesson of the following video by Fundação Pão Dos Pobres is that reality can't stop us from dreaming. To show that dreams are worthwhile, Pão dos Pobres created an art exhbition entitled "Por Trás Sonhos" (Behind the Dreams) featuring young people who illustrate their dreams for the future and professional artists who transform these dreams into depictions of reality. Reality is often darker than our dreams, but that should be reason enough to work for positive change.
New research from the World Health Organization finds that some 35% of women worldwide — one in three — are subject to violence over the course of their lives, mostly at the hands of husbands or partners and at a huge personal and economic cost.
Horrific events such as a gang rape on a bus seize headlines, but in fact no place is less safe for a woman than her own home. Estimates of lost productivity alone range from 1.5 to 2% of GDP, or roughly what most developing countries spend on primary education.
With "1 in 3," the World Bank Group Art Program seeks your engagement through art and encourages action to tackle gender-based violence.
This exhibition brings together hard data with some 80 nuanced, powerful artworks that explore the various ways in which violence affects the lives of women and girls around the world.
These works conveys the impact of domestic violence as experienced or witnessed by children, as in the paintings of Laben John of Papua New Guinea, and of sexual and gender-based violence as weapon of war, as in the sculpture of Freddy Tsimba from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Artist Nasheen Saeed of Pakistan depicts the deadening neglect so many girls suffer in their own families simply because they are girls.
Photographers Kay Cernush of the United States and Karen Robinson of the United Kingdom take on human trafficking with intimate portraits of young women lured abroad by the false promise of a better life. All help break the silence that often surrounds violence against women, encouraging survivors to stand up and speak out.
If images spark conversation, can a conversation spur action? Or more specifically, can a discussion about art and Syria’s economy the more than 100 prompt finance ministers attending the World Bank’s annual Spring Meetings in Washington to dig deeper into their pockets and give more humanitarian aid to Syria?
After 3 years of war, themes of fragmentation, fatigue, and bloodshed all come across in the work of Syrian artists currently being exhibited at the World Bank.
Collectively, their paintings convey a sense of the internal turmoil caused by external violence, paintings that hint at conflict: the skeleton beneath the skin, a fractured womb, being caught in a trap like a fly, the scarlet gashes of torn flesh, and sinister handcuffs, to name a few subjects.
Join us April 9th, 2014, for the opening of the art exhibition featuring 35 paintings by 15 Syrian artists who were given the time and space to work at an artist residence in Lebanon.
Get a glimpse of the paintings here.
After the situation in Syria deteriorated, around October 2011, thousands of Syrians fled to Lebanon, among them many young emerging artists. With the difficult conditions and emotional trauma, artists had to take jobs in construction and in restaurants instead of creating art. Given the situation and my belief in the importance of art in hard times, the idea of an artists’ residence in the town of Aley, or the Art Residence in Aley (ARA), arose.
Classical music welcomed me into Fadi Al Hamwi’s flat in the Gemmayze neighborhood of Beirut. His room was simple and distinctive. Instead of furniture occupying the space, he had lined it with art. Music swelled around us and half-finished, dramatic life-size paintings leaned against the walls. Fadi, a 27-year-old painter from the Syrian capital of Damascus, had moved to Beirut almost two years ago. On the walls were a series of X-ray portraits, mostly of animals. He said his art explored the lack of humanity in the Syrian war, exposing men and woman stripped to the structure of their bones.
Last night I attended the launch of the 2013 Cambridge International Development Report at Cambridge University. The report is the work of the Humanitarian Centre – a unique network that is truly cross-sector and collaborative in its approach.
So often I attend conferences and networks with homogenous attendees. Artists network with artists, social entrepreneurs with social entrepreneurs and diplomats with diplomats. Empathy and feel good scores high at these events, but rarely are people surprised, intrigued or challenged. The Humanitarian Centre puts poverty at its heart – and as a result attracts not just development professionals, but business leaders, academics, policy-makers, and, as it turns out – artists.
To launch the report last night I was asked to take part in a “life raft” debate. I had no idea what this was at first, but happily joined into the playful scenario. I am an artist after all. Everyone at the event was a survivor of an apocalypse. The year was 2015. The building we were in - Newnham College – was the last building standing on a tiny patch of land in the British Isles. The life raft was heavily laden with food, stocks and blankets and people and was poised to sail away to a new land, where survivors would build a new society from the ground up. Just as the raft was about to embark, six more survivors were found trapped under the rubble of a collapsed building. You can guess what comes next. I was one of the six and I had to argue my way onto the only remaining place on the boat. I was not there as a communications strategist or international relations expert – instead they asked me to present my case as an artist.
The great artist Pablo Picasso once said, "The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls." It was with a similar vision that the South Asia region of the World Bank organized the art exhibition, 'Imagining Our Future Together' last month. The purpose was to unite South Asian artists from all countries to highlight the lack of unity that hinders progress in the region and to create a vision of a more cooperative and prosperous future.
As someone who joined the South Asia region fairly recently, the art brought to life for me the development challenges the region faces in terms of identity, conflict, and gender inequality. As I listened to Guest Joint Curator, Elena Grant, explain the stories depicted in the art work, I couldn’t help but marvel at the beauty of the art and the depth of the themes communicated: from the symbolism of the four animals represented on the Indian national emblem to the hopes and dreams of a single young woman dashed by the dark realities of an early marriage.