Posts in Project
Searching for Humanity Work Descriptions

Felipe Berrios

TITLE: Felipe Berrios MEDIUM: Oil and paper on sewn canvas SIZE: 3ft 10in by 4ft 1in DESCRIPTION: Jesuit priest who helped found the organization “Un Techo Para Mi Pais” (A Roof for my Country), Chile. Techo aims to eradicate extreme poverty by working with residents to provide transitional housing but long term impact to those in communities across Latin America.

SOURCE: Photographs

Diane Reeder

TITLE: Diane Reeder MEDIUM: Oil on canvas SIZE: 4ft x 4ft DESCRIPTION: Executive Director of the Queens Galley soup kitchen in Kingston, NY. They provide meals to Ulster County residents as well as education on proper nutrition on low-budget incomes.

SOURCE: Video taken by artist

Carolyn Gomes

TITLE: Carolyn Gomes MEDIUM: Oil on canvas SIZE: 6 x 8ft DESCRIPTION: Co-founder of Jamaicans for Justice, an advocacy organization that focuses on human rights in Jamaica, well known for its stance on police brutality and speaking out for those in need of a legal voice in spite of controversy. Now Executive Director of the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition, that provides services to and on behalf of vulnerable populations in need of healthcare particularly in regards to HIV infection.

SOURCE: Combined photographs and videos

Tia Bete

TITLE: Tia Bete MEDIUM: Oil on canvas SIZE: 3ft 4in by 4ft DESCRIPTION: (Elisabete Aparecida Dias da Silva) Brazilian community leader who has run a school Oca dos Curumins for children and teenagers since the 1970s. Oca has continually given many children access to education and opportunity, but focuses on self-management of the individual, connecting school and life. She is also partnered with Community in Action, an NGO also providing education and access to students in the favela community of Complexo Alemão, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Tia Bete SOURCE: Photograph

Elizabeth Scharpf and Julienne Ingabire

TITLE: Elizabeth Scharpfh and Julienne Ingabire MEDIUM: Oil on canvas SIZE: 4ft 2in x 5ft DESCRIPTION: Founders of Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE). SHE uses entrepreneurial means to solve the problem of women’s access to menstrual pads, a problem which significantly affects work productivity. Starting in Rwanda, the organization is known for its creation of a 3-cent pad manufactured using local workers and

SOURCE: Photographs

Max Kenner

TITLE: Max Kenner MEDIUM: Oil on canvas SIZE: 4ft 2in x 5ft DESCRIPTION: Founder of the Bard Prison Initiative, which provides credit-bearing and degree granting education to individuals in correctional institutions across New York State.

 SOURCE: Video taken by artist

Bunker Roy

TITLE: Bunker Roy MEDIUM: Oil on canvas SIZE: Panel I 3ft x 3ft10in, Panel II 2ft x 3ft10in DATE: December 2014 DESCRIPTION: Indian activist and founder of the Barefoot College, which focuses on providing sustainable solutions to water access, solar power, and medical treatment by empowering locals through self-provision these resources with education and training.

SOURCE: Combined photographs and video

Nawal el Saadawi

TITLE: Nawal el Saadawi MEDIUM: Oil on Wood SIZE: Four 12” x 12” + Two10 x 12” (One piece was stolen during exhibition) DESCRIPTION: Egyptian writer whose work highlights issues facing women, particularly within Islam culture. She is most known for her advocacy against female genital mutilation, but is against circumcision in both sexes and the general mistreatment of women is an essential part of her writings. SOURCE: Photographs

A person

TITLE: A person MEDIUM: Oil on canvas SIZE: 3ft x 4ft DESCRIPTION: Intended to represent any person, stripped of all ‘layers’ of society. SOURCE: From life


TITLE: Me MEDIUM: Oil on canvas SIZE: 18 x 24in DATE: July 2014 DESCRIPTION: A person with a strong passion for life. SOURCE: From life

What is Searching for Humanity?

  Artist statement:

“Searching for Humanity” is what I have come up with, visually, in an attempt to filter my experience of life. At first glance, I saw my work as shining light on inspirational people doing ‘good’ on the planet. At tenth glance, I admitted to myself that this project was a personal search for answers. I saw people doing things that made something inside me react. But I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was. After a long time, I realized that they were being honest about their reaction to the world around them. And that I was struggling to do the same. I have questions that I ask myself about what my place in the world is, and I am curious about how conflicted and hurt I feel when I see people suffering. I ask why it almost feels like to function in the world means ignoring these feelings because it’s ‘too much’.

The physical work is a series of portraits of individuals who are confronting those things that we are all sort of ashamed of as a species. I don’t know that their methods or professions are ‘right’. I believe we all have biases or histories that push us in certain directions. I know that these are persons who are visible and it is easy to see their virtue (and flaws). I am also sensitive to the palette of my audience. But I see people who aren’t running from problems, but are battling them, in real time, not just at the movies in metaphorical stories between good and evil. The portraits are of Max Kenner, Diane Reeder, Carolyn Gomes, Nawal el Saadawi, Sanjit Roy, Tia Bete, Felipe Berrios, Elizabeth Scharpf and Julienne Ingabire, myself, a friend.

The world is a harsh place, because people are in pain. And the more people refuse to admit this the more that pain will come out, because it needs to be seen and resolved. But this has to be done on the individual level, first. We cannot face the problems of the world if we are not facing the conflict within ourselves. And to see this is to go to the places within ourselves that we don’t want to go, to embrace the full spectrum of our emotions as they arrive. To battle our monsters we must go through them. I feel that this is something that everyone knows. But there is a pressure to lie about, to deflect, to minimize certain things that aren’t spoken about except in really private moments, things that one erases from memory, that one denies denying. People who remind us of the conflict within ourselves, we try to erase too, instead of finding the answer within. We cannot fight darkness, without bringing it to light. The world seems to be getting more self-destructive, but it’s for a reason, because it’s the only way it seems that we can start being honest about our history.

I can’t fully explain it here, if ever. And everyone’s journey (and conclusions) is unique to him or her, but these are the reflections behind my work, and my work is one way in which I process them.

-Desi-Rae Campbell (Dec 2014)