In Service of Humanity
January 19th, 2015
I love how MLK Day has become synonymous with service. And I love even more how, particularly with recent events in Ferguson, Staten Island, Paris and elsewhere, we are more cognizant than ever of the value of community. So in the spirit of this day of service, and with our common humanity in mind, I found this story about the service of art particularly moving.
We all know art has value. It moves us to tears, it stirs our souls in good ways and bad, it makes us think. And sometimes it does more. The Gates Foundation is in the midst of utilizing art to tell a story… And thus, to change the world. Earlier this month, the Times reported about the launch of The Art of Saving a Life, fascinating and remarkable project to highlight the stories behind lifesaving vaccines.
Vaccinations save thousands of lives each year. They are invaluable scientific tools that keep our world healthy and alive. Yet, studies show that still “one in five children today do not have access to the life-saving vaccines they need.”
So what’s the solution to this deficiency?
Perhaps a bit of education (although some studies show that education actually doesn’t help increase vaccination rates). Perhaps a bit of art.
The Art of Saving a Life is a project commissioned by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to promote the usage of vaccines and bridge this deadly gap. The project is a collection of stories that encapsulate the history of vaccinations, the people who have been saved by them and how vaccines have affected the overall health of the planet. These inspirational stories “must be told,” the foundation quotes, as they illustrate “risk and bravery, the passion and dedication of scientists, the love of parents, and the determination of health workers.”
Thirty renowned artists joined the project. Photographers, sculptors, painters, fashion designers, film makers, musicians, and writers unite to create beautiful pieces of art that narrate these stories. This project “offers an opportunity to hear, see and feel the tremendous impact of immunization, and to energize us in the global effort to protect every child from life-threatening disease.” These artists are using their talents to inform people in a visually pleasing way. Deborah Kelly, for instance, is educating women about cervical cancer not by showing a fearful photo, but instead by showing a picture of beautiful girls wearing empowered headdresses.
The best part of this project, though, is the opportunity to join.
We all can achieve this goal through our own art. Let’s think about how to use our own work to tell compelling stories. Let’s think about how our work can inspire and empower. We all are proficient in the universal language art, so let’s use it in the spirit of service and community.
Dare I say it is a lovely way to celebrate MLK Day and the spirit of service of Martin Luther King.