Monday, December 28, 2009

Hope through Art!

Thank you for all who made Help Tammy Help Haiti's
mural happen in Cite Soleil!!
A special thank you to Global Awareness Project
and their Creative Collaboration Grant!
It is an honor to be a part of something bigger,
something that bridges the gaps between us!

Part of the team of 10 who painted with me in Cite S0leil!

The Final Product! Help Tammy Help Haiti Mural in Cite Soleil, Haiti

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Final Day in Cite Soleil

Today was an incredible day. Today, my sister and I completed the mural project with Help Tammy Help Haiti on the water tower they just had built in Cite Soleil.

I don't think we could have gone out of Cite Soleil on a better note. We ended our day dancing in the slum's streets with the children as men blew on horns, beat some drums, and blew on a handmade base. It was a great way to go out.

On the flip side, it was so sad too. Joyful, but sad. I am so going to miss those youth that quickly came to be like brothers, the men that were so proud to be empowered and put to use with their abilities, and the children that just wanted to be hugged and held for a bit each day.

I must say, Cite Soleil is not a one time, get in your "good work," and feel better about yourself project. It is a place my heart resides, now and in the future. It is a place that does have the danger, the poverty, the disease, the stench. But there is hope, there is beauty, there is restoration to be had in that place where there seems to be none.

My sister and I opted to put a couple of the youth in school in addition to paying for their work. Not saying that to affirm myself. I am just saying. That is where hope steps in for these people. When one heart connects with another, sees the potential, and gives a little room for empowerment and growth when there is no other option. These youth do not know yet, but Tammy will tell them, and she will make them do the leg work to get themselves in school. And I believe that they will succeed. If they fail, we will help them succeed the next time.

Each of the men that helped us paint-- about 10 in all, from the guards, to the teen guys, to the grown men--I was astonished that when they were given a task with a measurable outcome, how they succeeded. Even when I barely speak their language. Crazy!! And none of them knew they are going to be paid (Tammy will pay them after we leave)!! It makes you wonder, if these men had the opportunity, what they could be. And that leaves me with the thought: What is the next opportunity me and Leah can bring them? So, that is where I am praying right now. I hope it is sooner than later.

I wish I could post a picture or a video right now, but unfortunately, I am writing from a Haitian hostel and cannot download any of the sort. However, you can see more about where I have been if you go on You Tube and search "Help Tammy Help Haiti." There is some amazing footage about the project Leah and I have been involved with.

As of today, there is a little more beauty in that slum than there was before, and more importantly, some more hopeful youth and men than there were before.

I can't wait to see my new Haitian family again....

Lastly, I want to thank Global Awareness Project and all of our sponsors for this project in Cite Soleil with Help Tammy Help Haiti. Things accomplished because you put us there and believe in us:

1) Two youth are going to be put in school for their work
2) 480 sq foot mural for Help Tammy Help Haiti's water tower
3) 10 men and teenage youth paid for their work
and receive Haitian Bibles
4) One youth will be given shoes for his work,
enabling him to go to school
5) Ministry within Cite Soleil receiving 25 Haitian Bibles

Thank you, Jesus, for your protection and provision; for placing us in the midst of people who desire to transform lives! May this only be the beginning of all You want to do to make Your Name great in a dark place.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Redemption Art's Craziest Experience Yet: Painting in Cite Soleil!

So today was the second day of painting the mural in Cite Soleil, Port Au Prince, Haiti. If you want some fast facts on Cite Soleil, read the blog below. To sum it up: Worst slum on this side of the world. This is not my photo above, but it gives you an idea of what we are in the middle of.

Anyway, today we (My sister Leah and I) had about 9 grown men and teenage guys helping us paint the the 480 square foot mural on a water tower recently built by Help Tammy Help Haiti. I was just discussing the reality of these guys helping me paint with my sister and how incredible it truly is to have some of the hardest men who have seen some of the hardest things in life painting with us. Truly "Redemption Art"at work.

However, I know without a doubt that it is not the art that is drawing these men to the project; it is the Spirit of the Living God. There is no question in my mind that this project has been orchestrated, provided by, and ordained by God. From the paint arriving here just in time to God providing those 9 men to help me.

I was reading the other day, and the author of this particular book asked the question: ""When was the last time you saw The Spirit of God at work in your life?" And I was so so so glad that I could testify to TODAY!!!

The sweetest moment of The Spirit today was this: Standing arm in arm with a 23-year old former child soldier who spent the day painting with us. For those of you who know who Wilfet is, he is the next Wilfet in my life. I can feel it. The Spirit of God at work, I tell you what.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Forgotten City: Cite Soleil, Haiti

We arrived in Cite Soleil in Port-au-Prince, Haiti today!! Read the statistics about Cite Soleil, and imaginations of violence will immediately formulate in your mind. Watch a You Tube video and you will see extreme poverty. However, what greeted us today as we entered Cite Soleil with Tammy Babcock of Help Tammy Help Haiti was wide smiles, warm embraces, and kisses on cheeks.

Today, with the help of several nationals, we completed the priming of the water tower pictured above, where we will be completing a mural in the next couple weeks that will represent the individuals who helped bring the most affordable clean water to Cite Soleil and will also represent hope and life for the people of Cite Soleil. We will have 3 Haitian youth helping us complete the mural project as well. Their hands were such a blessing today!!


Organizations supporting this project:
The Global Awareness Project (
Help Tammy Help Haiti (

Project Mission: To help bring love, beauty, reconciliation, and restoration through art, and to create a bridge for further sustainable projects within Cite Soleil.

Written by my sister (Leah):
"Our prayer for the last year has been that the Lord would expand our borders and carry our ministry into the slum of Cite Soleil, Haiti. Cite Soleil is the largest slum in the Northern Hemisphere with a population of 300,000. It is a city within a city that holds thousands upon thousands of shanties that are surrounded by sewer and garbage. It is a place that has been forgotten because it has been claimed to be one of the poorest, roughest, and most dangerous areas of the Western Hemisphere. Washington Post has stated that over 32 gangs heavily populate the streets with little or no police present. Seven out of ten Haitians in this city strive to live on less than 2 dollars a day. It is a place where children run freely in the sewer and scrounge for days for food. 90% of the children do not attend school.

Caitlin and I first learned of City Soleil when we spent the night in Port-au-Prince, Haiti a year ago, and we met Tammy Babcock, a humanitarian from Canada, at our hotel. Tammy came across this city in the year of 2008 and it left her heart burdened. As she told us about Cite Soleil, our hearts were burdened as well. We knew we had to go. However, the next day we left without Tammy's information, without even her last name. For the past year, we prayed God would somehow reconnect us. As I searched the internet for "Tammy" and "City Soleil" this past April, THERE SHE WAS!!! We immediately contacted her and asked her if we could serve her and the Cite Soleil community in some way.

Tammy Babcock has committed all her efforts to help advocate, fundraise, and support this city and its people. When Tammy travels to this city she brings medical treatments that meet the needs of hundreds of people. Recently the non-profit she started, Help Tammy Help Haiti, broke ground for the first water tower for the city (see above). It was a day of laughter, joy, dancing, and rejoicing as some of these parents and children were seeing there first sight of clean water.

Come November my sister, Caitlin, and I will be traveling to Cite Soleil to walk the streets with Tammy Babcock and serve the people with food, service, medical treatments, and above all else the love of Christ. Caitlin will be painting a mural with a couple of Haitian teenagers on the new water tower, and Leah will be embracing the children.

I challenge you to take a moment and imagine... Imagine waking up in a shanty the size of your bathroom. Now imagine stepping outside and having to cover your nose as the stench of garbage, septic, pigs, and bad hygiene claim the streets. Now imagine that you have not eaten in days and your family has run out of the two dollars you earned on that day, and you take off for the streets in search of food. That food might be in the garbage piles or you might steal for it.

If you have a child I want you to take a moment and imagine him/her at seven years old, starving, no education, no shoes, walking in inches of septic searching for food that might help your family. I challenge you right now to think about how you can pour into the lives of these children and families. Please do not turn your eyes on these people."

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Mural 4 and Camp Hope in Haiti

This verse has compelled us: "Go and make disciples..." (My sister here reading a Creole bible with one of the kids.)

So, we go...

Wilfet, a young disciple of Christ.

Louvna, another disciple of Christ...

Men who have gotten their first bible.

Teaching the kiddos the Word of God during camp.

Learning about Creation and all that God created.

Teaching them the big picture of the world.

With lots of fun!

And lots of art!
For the mural, I had many helpers...

Who says you can't paint a mural in your underwear?

Or use people as ladders?

Or as stools?

Evens was one of my best helpers. Eager every day.
As was Wilfet.

My Haitian brothers.

I prayed about what to paint this year.

I painted a message about family.

I painted a prayer that families would be restored in Haiti.
The verse written in Creole is from John 13:34: "Love each other.
As I have loved you, so you should love each other." Louvna
suggested it.

To Haiti and Back

So, I just got back from my fourth time in Haiti, and this time, I didn't want to come home. There is something about a third world country that makes life so very, very clear. Distractions turn from busyness, time, and schedules to the starving baby at the hospital, the 27 year-old young man dying of HIV, and the 15 year-old boy who describes his life in Haiti as "misery." Yes, I am quoting him.

I don't write any of that to incite feelings of guilt or whatever. I am just saying that this is the reality of what I am feeling right now. Somehow, I guess I feel like I could be used so much more over there or somewhere like that because there are so many who need love, who need compassion, who need the love of Christ in the midst of their desparity. Yes, there are so many here too who need that. There is just something different here. Go, and you will know.

Where does that leave me right now? It leaves me wrestling in myself. It leaves me asking God: "Where? When? How?" I am not going anywhere. Yet. I just know my heart (and my eyes) are weeping for those children. You can see some of them above.

I have been reading "A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier." It is pretty timely. I haven't seen the brutality this book explains, however my heart aches with the imagination of it. I know many in Haiti have experienced similar things in their lifetime. To think there are so many children who live in a such a state: poverty, separation, hunger, violence, abuse.

What am I going to do about it? What is Christ calling me to do about it?

I do know something... I know Christ is calling me to see youth come into the fullness of Christ. And I think of my dear dear friend in Haiti named Wilfet. Wilfet is 19 years old, and very much on his own in life. He came to Christ through Camp Hope, the camp my sister and I started last summer. He worked for us as a camp counselor last summer and this summer. Through this time, he has become like a brother to me and to my sister. Each day this past month, we sat with Wilfet studying English and Creole, and we would talk about Christ and how to grow in Him. Every day!! My favorite time of day was just sitting there with him and discussing life. I really believe Wilfet's life is being transformed through the love of Christ. That he has a hope and future even though he has a hard set of cards.

As I am writing all of this, I think of this verse for those children and youth: "We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God." 2 Corinthians 4:7-9. This verse gives me hope for the Wilfet's of this world, and it motivates me for those like him to know of this light shining in their hearts in the midst of the darkness.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Your Visual Voice

I have been reading a book about finding your visual voice. I wish I read this book years ago. I guess God's timing is perfect though.

What has really resonated with me is the fact that I, or any other artist, should not try to be like another artist--I am my own and knowing what inspires me is the most important thing.

I might like so-and-so's style, and I might wish I was more like this or that in the paint... However, the reality is, if I try to be a certain way in the paint and it is not my nature, then I will be dissatisfied on many fronts.

The author gave an example of a friend of hers who really liked another artist's loose style, so she tried to paint in a more loose form. However, by nature she was a realist, and "because she tried to follow someone else's path, she eventually became so frustrated that she quit painting altogether."

Today, I feel more confident than ever about my style, and that is because I am confident in The Inspiration. So glad to be at this point.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Doing Live Painting

In 2002, while I was a senior at University of Richmond doing my art thesis, a friend of mine told me about a live chalk artist he had seen at a conference. Well, that was a seed for me. I began exploring live art and had several pictures in my mind of myself doing it in the future.

It wasn't until 2005 that I did my first live painting in Myrtle Beach, SC. Thankfully, I met an artist well known to the area--Kimberly Dawn Clayton--who does live painting and is a well known folk artist. She was and is a major inspiration to me as I explored the area of live painting. She introduced me to the concept of recycled art and using recycled materials, such as old doors, windows, and wood. She also inspired me in the use of color, being free in form, and composition.

Overall, there are different forms of live art, each unique in their own way. For those of you who might not know what live painting is, it is basically a form of painting done in a segmented amount of time with an audience of sorts.

For myself, I tend to compliment something else going on, whether it is a conference, a worship session, a wedding, a fundraiser, etc. In each setting, I paint something different, according to the people, the event, or the setting. I love painting out whatever is the spirit of what is going on.

Below, you will see some examples of my recent live paintings at the following events:
Catalyst Conference in Atlanta
Sojourners' Mobilization to End Poverty in Washington, D.C.
Alabama-West Florida UMC Youth Conference in Panama City, FL
30 Hour Famine for Woodbridge Church of the Nazarene, VA
ULM Baptist Student Ministry in Monroe, LA
Glow Retreat at North Monroe Baptist Church in Monroe, LA
FB Swartz in Monroe, LA

For more about live painting, you can see my website:

Monday, May 18, 2009

Live Painting!!

A Little Bit About...

The murals below are murals that were completed with the help of various youth and community members either in Myrtle Beach or in Haiti. Their description is as follows:

1. The Myrtle Beach Mall mural (11' x 65') was a collaboration of Myrtle Beach Mall and Loris Healthcare System to promote wellness, community, and caring. I had fourth teenage youth from two different youth agencies help me complete the mural.

2. The Miracle League Memorial Mural (8' x 65') was a collaboration between The Grand Strand Miracle League, The Waccamaw Youth Center, and SOS Healthcare, Inc. Six youth helped me complete this mural. The youth were the initiators in doing this mural and also were key in brainstorming the images for the mural.

3. The Abiding Village Mural (11' x 65') was for an urban arts center for at-risk youth. One youth helped me complete this mural.

4. The Haiti Murals (10' x 40') began in 2006. The two here were completed in 2006 and 2008. The Haitian community modelled for me, gave me advice, and helped me complete the murals each year.

Community Murals in Myrtle Beach and Haiti

Friday, May 15, 2009

Creating with a Biblical Worldview

I was reading the other day about artists explaining their creative process. For me, understanding my creative process has only been recent.

People create according to the lense through which they see the world. In other words, people create through their worldview. Examining other cultures' works of art, one can discover a particular culture's beliefs, values, and way life; whether it is an ancient or present culture.

Personally, I perceive the world through a biblical worldview. Of course, that could mean many things to many people. To break it down, I create with the belief that Jesus Christ has redeemed mankind through His love and forgiveness; through His death and resurrection.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines redemption as "the act of redeeming." To redeem something means the following: "to get or win back; to free from what distresses or harms; to free from capitivity by payment of ransom; to help to overcome something detrimental; to release from blame or debt; clear; to free from the consequences of sin; to change for the better; reform; repair; restore; to make good; to exchange for something of value."

My artwork is called Redemption Art because I hope it leads to redemption in people's lives. I hope that it draws people to Christ in some way. That it encourages people that through Him anything can be turned for good. That through Him, we can have life, light, peace, and goodness; even in the midst of darkness.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009