Creating something beautiful

One of my goals for 2010 is to update this blog more often than I did in 2009 (which shouldn’t be too hard given the infrequent posts last year). With that, I also want to do more to get word out about causes, people, and other things that I think are important and deserve your attention and support. For several reasons, I feel compelled to make the first post in this vein today.

I worked a volunteer shift on Saturday afternoon at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art helping with an Artist Talk by Gloria Baker Feinstein (who happens to be based here in Kansas City). I didn’t know much about her beforehand, but I had seen a few of her photographs here and there, and was interested in learning more about her. I am so glad I decided to sign up for the assignment because I fell in love with her photos, was impressed by how she came across as a person, and was introduced to a great organization.

The body of work she has produced is diverse, but all of her photos have a natural grace and elegance about them, no matter the subject or style. There is a thoughtful simplicity and straightforwardness in her images, but at the same time a lot of mystery and a kind of haunting quality. I’m fascinated by how her framing choices and depth of field are often unusual and striking. I loved that she seemed unpretentious in person, and I was moved as much of what she showed during her talk contained themes, ideas, or emotions that resonated deeply with me.

As wonderful as it was to learn about her art, I also found out that Ms. Feinstein is the founder of a non-profit organization called Change the Truth. The group supports the St. Mary Kevin Orphanage in Uganda, and helps provide food, shelter, clothing, and education (and ultimately hope for a better future) for numerous children whose lives have been devastated by war and HIV/AIDS. These kids have witnessed unspeakable atrocities and dealt with death and poverty, and yet they have joy and plans for what they will become and how they will help their country.

In addition to admiring the work Change the Truth is doing, I was touched by Feinstein’s desire to use her art to show these children as people with dignity and inherent value. The truth of what each child has lived through is horrendous, but their truth is also being changed, and that is something worth celebrating. They are not people to feel sorry for, but to see as inspirational.

If you have an interest in this cause, please go to the site, or check out Kutuuka, her book of portraits and journalistic images from Uganda (proceeds from the sale of this book go to CTT for the orphanage).

There are many other things floating around in my head as I post this note. Jon and I have been talking lately about needs in our local community. As I think about people and places that need help, I also have to think of the recent earthquake in Haiti and the hundreds of thousands of people who have been killed or wounded, and the many more who now are trying to survive with virtually no food, no home, and who face the monumental task of trying to rebuild their lives. I cannot imagine being in the midst of such a large-scale humanitarian crisis. Please pray for these people and all those trying to provide aid, and find what you can do to help.

And in talking about people who need help and those who are working to create change, I must remember that today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. May we all be moved to stand up for what is right in this world and to work for justice and equality for those who need it, and may we never forget those who have done so before us. As cynical as I am, I still believe that there is hope and redemption.

Thank God for grace and beauty in a fallen world.

~ Kate