The Cradles are Coming

Twenty-one cradles are being packed and will soon be shipped to Washington, DC for the beautiful art exhibit, The Cradle Project. Alongside the XIX International AIDS Conference taking place this month in Washington, DC, which will draw thousands of scientists and advocates to the city, we have  partnered with Aid for Africa and the Washington Studio School to sponsor an art installation that draws attention to the plight of the estimated 12 million children orphaned and made vulnerable by AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.

The cradles comprise a wide variety of art forms collected from all corners of the United States, crafted from hands as diverse as those of school children to those living in homeless shelters to museum-exhibited artists. Brightly colored collages and fabrics, stained and painted wood, metal scraps and puzzle pieces come together to create stunning pieces representing the lost potential of our world’s orphaned children.

The cradles to be exhibited in Washington, DC represent a fraction of the more than 500 submitted to “The Cradle Project” first organized by artist and TED Fellow Naomi Natale in 2008 that we talked about on this blog in May. While most of the cradles are now in private collections, twenty-one are being made available to extend the impact of this project. We've also invited a small group of artists who were inspired by the opportunity to make a difference through art to create new cradles to contribute to the installation in DC.

Founded by artist Naomi Natale after a visit to Kenya’s slums and tribal reserves, the vision of the project was to use empty cradles as symbols to reflect the basic needs of children that AIDS threatens. “If we can see enough potential in discarded materials to build structures meant to cradle a child, then we believe that every one of us will be challenged to see and help realize the potential of our world’s orphaned children,” says Natale.

The initial Cradle Project exhibition was born to promote awareness and raise financial support to help feed, shelter and educate these children through the Firelight Foundation. We then folded 100 percent of the proceeds into our support for our grantee-partners, the African community -based organizations directly serving children in need.

If you are going to be in DC, please see The Cradle Project. The exhibit will  be open July 18 to August 3, 2012. Monday-Friday 10:00am-4:00pm, Saturday and Sunday on July 21, 22, 27 and 28 from 11:00am-5:00pm and by appointment all other evenings and weekends.

Here's our video about The Cradle Project exhibit in DC. Hope to see you there!