Malawian Children's Artwork Picturing Love at Westport Arts Center

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Paintings Created by Malawian Schoolchildren in Save the Children's Healing and Education through Arts Program

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Eileen Burke 203.216.0718
Nikki Archibald 203.221.3709

Children in Malawi create colorful paintings on August 23, 2011 as part of Save the Children’s HEART program. Photo Credit: Gloria Simoneax

Children in Malawi create colorful paintings on August 23, 2011 as part of Save the Children’s HEART program. Photo Credit: Gloria Simoneax

WESTPORT, Conn. (September 7, 2011) — Thirteen-year-old Justin is a boy in love. When asked to illustrate love on canvas, he painted himself with a few strokes of indigo blue and emerald green giving a flower to a girl he cares about. Justin's watercolor painting is one in a series of artworks on display at the "Malawi with Love" exhibit at The Westport Arts Center studio gallery and art studio from Sept. 16 through Nov. 4, 2011. An opening reception will be held on Friday, Sept. 16, from 6:00pm to 8:00pm. The reception is free and open to the public.

The special exhibit will feature a collection of watercolor paintings from Malawian children, ages 11 through 14, who participate in Westport-based Save the Children's art therapy and education program known as Healing and Education through the Arts or HEART.

The students' paintings show love through traditional Malawian homes, flowers, a favorite dress and a cherished notebook given by a teacher, among other beloved items. Each work of art on display in the gallery is accompanied by a short explanation of the painting in the artist's own words.

"Westport residents have a deep history and appreciation for art. It seemed only natural that we would hold our first HEART exhibit here," said Save the Children's Carolyn Miles, president & CEO. We are grateful to the Westport Arts Center for allowing us to share the children's heartfelt creations with our community."

Miles added, "Our Healing and Education through the Arts program introduced art to children and teachers in rural Malawi for the first time. Most had never held a paintbrush before. But with guidance and encouragement, art can help transform children's lives."

Helen Klisser During is the director of Visual Arts at the Westport Arts Center and is the curator of “Malawi with Love.” She said, “I am interested in balancing the hyperlocal and global when curating a show. The art has to carry some weight with it, bringing inspiration and awareness to the viewer.”

During added, “The exhibit is a gem with a great punch. We want the art to help bring awareness to the HEART program and to show how incredibly wise these kids are. We get to see that with love there are universal human concerns.”

Background on HEART

Save the Children's HEART program uses the arts to promote the well-being and development of children by providing them with a creative means of expression. The program is targeted to children living in areas affected by conflict, violence, HIV/AIDS and extreme poverty. The young artists who contributed to the "Malawi with Love" exhibit live in Malawi, a country with one of the world's highest rates of HIV/AIDS. Nearly 1 million Malawian children have lost one or both of their parents due to illness.

HEART uses the arts to help children articulate what they have experienced and are feeling, in order to understand their often misunderstood or ignored emotional needs. In addition to Malawi, the program is carried out through Save the Children's early childhood development and school programs in Haiti, Mozambique and Nepal.

As part of this special exhibit, the Westport Arts Center is partnering with Save the Children to establish an ART PALS program. Through the program, students from Westport and Malawi can create and exchange their works of art.

"Malawi with Love" is on display through November 6. A public lecture by Save the Children president & CEO, Carolyn Miles, will be held on Friday, Nov. 4, at 7:00 p.m. at the Westport Arts Center.

For more information, contact Westport Arts Center at 203.222.7070. There is no cost associated with viewing the “Malawi with Love” exhibit. Gallery hours are Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., at 51 Riverside Avenue, Westport, Conn.

Save the Children is the leading, independent organization that creates lasting change for children in need in the United States and around the world. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
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