Habitat for Humanity boosted by local artists
March 10, 2011 · Updated 9:25 AM
A project titled “HARMONY” is the brain-child of three American encaustic painters — Langley artist Anne Smidt and her colleagues Rodney Thompson and Cari Hernandez of California.
In 2009, Smidt, Thompson and Hernandez began to formulate an artistic collaboration that, when complete, would be sold to raise money for a national charity and inspire an ever-expanding community to celebrate the human spirit.
The concept was simple: design an 8-foot-by-4-foot grid, with the word “harmony” and divide it into 32 separate 12-inch square panels. Each panel would contain a portion of the complete design, and would be painted and donated by an individual artist-collaborator. When completed, the panels would be reassembled to form the final piece: eight squares wide by four squares tall, spelling out the word “HARMONY” in 32 different styles.
Once completed, the ultimate goal was for the assembled collaboration to travel all over the country and be displayed in galleries, museums, corporations and other public spaces with the intent of selling the piece and donating the proceeds to Habitat For Humanity.
In early summer 2010, invitations went out to encaustic artists from across the United States. It was no surprise to Smidt that five South Whidbey artists were among the final 32 artists chosen. During the following three or four months, Smidt encouraged and cajoled all of the participants to complete their contributions, and the results began to pour in.
From Whidbey Island, project collaborators include: Smidt, Lori Tate, Molly Shoup, Michel Tsouris and Kim Tinuviel. Each artist not only donated her time and talent, but also agreed to pay out-of-pocket to ship and promote the project until the piece was sold.
As artists in the encaustic world became aware of “HARMONY” and interest began to build, the Encaustic Art Institute (EAI), a New Mexico nonprofit art corporation, inquired about purchasing the piece.
In February, a deal was completed, and EAI embraced the artists’ collective vision by agreeing to purchase “HARMONY,” recruit sponsors, schedule fundraising events, advertise and promote the display and its associated events, and finally, to make the donation to Habitat For Humanity in the context of a special media event.
Under the direction of EAI, “HARMONY” will tour eight major cities and be displayed in public spaces of sponsors such as construction and architectural firms, and in galleries and museums. Additional donated art and auction items will also be sold as part of the fundraising effort. The “HARMONY” community’s goal is to raise adequate funds to construct a home in each supporting community.
The first “HARMONY” display is slated for Albuquerque and Santa Fe, N.M., and Smidt hopes to eventually secure a South Whidbey sponsor to display the project locally.
For additional information and project updates, visit www.rodneythompson.com/temporary_storage/HARMONY.html.
Artist stories and contact information can be found by clicking on individual panels within the “HARMONY” grid.
Smidt can be reached by e-mail at EncausticGridProject@fishpuppy.com.