Creative Outlooks for Change

Orange, red and yellow graphic that reads Youth on Youth

I recently talked with Hannah Wides, a young artist who joined with Firelight Foundation on The Cradle Project last year. The Cradle Project exhibit was on display in Washington D.C. last July during the International AIDS Conference. Hannah made a cradle for the exhibit. I wanted to hear more about her and what she's doing next.

How did you feel when you saw the response from the public?

I was thrilled. I still feel so honored and enlivened by it.  These pieces come from people with all different backgrounds united by a common cause.  I am so honored to have been able to show my work for the cause and so thankful to have done it.

In the video I watched of you making your cradle, you mentioned how the project turned out to be something much bigger than you thought initially. What did you mean by that?

Well, my work changed over time. Originally, I was going to make my cradle out of wood--literally thinking cradle. Then, I decided to use an aluminum grating that I found from a radiator in my studio, which is an abandoned Sunday school.  I began thinking more about the lost opportunities of the children in the Sunday school in conjunction with those of the AIDS orphans in Africa. It made it more personal to me and in the end it all tied together.

After being a part of The Cradle Project, do you think you are going to continue creating art that spreads awareness?

To me, one of the primary functions of art IS to spread awareness. Consciousness. This is Happening/ This is What I Saw/This could be. Hopefully, my art will challenge its viewers to expand their capacity of and better understand perception. My art practice reflects my interest in and practice of nondualism of Zen philosophy. I try to allow each sculpture to be as wholly possessing the "ness" of the material it’s made from, as it does the object or form I create from it. I want to breakdown the barriers created by the dualist thought process that our society heavily enforces, especially those barriers created by historical, social and cultural gender roles. Our objective consciousness misleads us into thinking we are separate and distinguished from the rest of the universe, but we are affected and shaped by every event, micro or macro, that takes place in the universe. The potential for the millions of African children affected by AIDS is infinite.  Our futures are contingent on theirs. They are our future students, politicians, farmers, activists, teachers and innovators. 

Was The Cradle Project different from other projects you've been involved in?

Yes, I have never been involved in a project like this. I have never been involved with a cause that will actually inspire involvement in global issues. It was my first exhibit outside of college.  I loved that it had a creative outlook and had the opportunity to change lives. The Cradle Project was very new to me and I would like to be involved in it again.

What are you doing next?

I just had a show of my own work a few weeks ago in Brooklyn. I also just moved into a new studio and I am trying to set up a wood shop for people in my community to use. I also want to do less completely solid form work and more art that is interactive with people outside of my community to participate in.


This blog was written by Anya Barca-Hall as part of Firelight's Youth-on-Youth Blog series where young people write about the issues they find important in today's world. Anya is a High School student and a communications intern at Firelight Foundation. Her previous blog was Everyone Should Know About World AIDS Day