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For the second year in a row I’ve enjoyed working with dedicated men and women to provide much needed humanitarian services to the impoverished people and villages on the north shore of the Dominican Republic. Haitian Humanitarian Assistance and Relief Teams (aka HHART), under the leadership of Rotarian Steve Wallace of Wasaga Beach, has been helping to improve the lives of impoverished people in Dominican bateys since 2011.
The Rotary sponsored HHART 10 and 11 missions attracted 41 devoted volunteers and the necessary funding to bring medical and dental services, road and roof construction, waterworks improvements, home improvements for seniors, Montessori school supplies, community school kitchen renovations, documenting seniors’ life stories, installation of solar light systems, eyeglasses distribution, and photography services to the bateys (former sugar cane worker villages) of Cangrejo, Pancho Mateo, La Union and Chichigua located not far from the Puerto Plata airport.
Our photography team documented the HHART volunteers befriending and helping the villagers. We also photographed school and family portraits, then printed and delivered them to the people. HHART provided the sand, gravel and cement for Cangrejo’s experienced construction workers to cover the villages earthen, rocky roads and walkways with smooth concrete. Walls of the local school were repainted, new shelving and lighting and ceiling fans were installed, and hundreds of new Montessori-style teaching materials significantly increased the school’s ability to provide quality educational experiences. There was always time for reading, colouring, skipping or walking with the children. And lastly, the local sewing club received many bolts of new fabric to make clothes and bags for villagers to start their own micro business.
HHART is a unique opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of these forgotten people. For more information visit www/Facebook.com/HHART.info.
To preview more images from the HHART 10 and 11 Missions from January 28 to Feb. 11, 2018 copy and paste the link below into your browser.
Breaking Through The Wall
A close friend, who is also a photographer, mentioned that currently her creativity is in short supply. She doesn’t feel inspired to make better pictures and she seems to be stuck in a rut photographically. As visual artists, we are on a journey upward, similar to a mountain climb. We struggle to learn new ways to reach a plateau, once we reach that level, we then run out of steam and have to be re-inspired to learn more and find new ways of communicating our visual message to move forward.
I call this roadblock to our creative inspiration a Wall since it tries to prevent us from moving forward to new and interesting directions. If we use the Wall as an indicator or a means of telling us that we need to become more inspired and motivated, then we can take action to move through this dark patch and into a brighter tomorrow.
A few years ago when I hit The Wall (which happens to me every once in a while) I truly felt like giving up and getting into some other profession. I was uninspired, down on my work and in a very deep rut emotionally. The Wall can stop you from moving forward, but it can also indicate a need for more inspiration and motivation to learn new ways of expressing your visual ideas. I decided to use my camera and close-up lens in a different way to express my inner feelings. The result was a highly creative collection of work for a gallery exhibit. Instead of being blocked by the Wall, I was able to move through it to a new direction and it felt great.
In digital photography you could become re-inspired by learning new software, attending a workshop, buying a new camera, lens or other gadget to allow you to capture uniquely designed images, that not only look great, but also express your inner most feelings. Try thinking, seeing and creating images in different ways when you hit a Wall. That will help you to move through it and on to better pictures.
Everything in this universe is on its way to somewhere. If we are not moving ahead making new images, developing new ideas and trying unique ways of seeing and expressing, then we are not only standing still, but we are really falling behind, because everyone else is moving forward.
As visual artists we should never be satisfied with what we have just created. We should always be striving to create something better, more interesting, more expressive, more colourful and more meaningful. We may also try new ways and venues to display and exhibit our pictures. I have discovered that it takes most of a lifetime to develop your craft to gain the recognition you deserve.
You will never reach the mountain top unless you are willing to break through the Wall on the way up and discover a new level of creative expression.
I was driving past Midwest Metals, our local metal recycling depot, and noticed an old Dodge Fargo Truck parked on display in front of the yard. What caught my eye about the Fargo Truck was its awesome layers of rust and previous paint. As you see from the picture, the patches and scratches of paint and rust formed shapes, lines and patterns called ‘Rust Art’. I had seen other photographers’ ‘Rust Art’ pictures and thought that this would be a perfect opportunity to capture a group of very interesting close-up images of the truck’s metal surface.
I raced back to the Studio to pick up my trusty Canon 5D Mark 11, Tripod and Tamron 90 mm Macro lens to frame extreme close-ups of the rusty metal surfaces. I shot hundreds of pictures over two days. First, a group of the surface images were captured just after a rainstorm, which seemed to enhance the greens and reds. Next, I went back to photograph in the warm light just before sunset. This warm light brought out more of the yellows and rust coloured textures. I asked a friend, Judy Miller, who is a former Art Teacher, to help in editing all my best Fargo Rust Art images down to 25. We printed and framed 12 images for The Creemore Festival of the Arts and Mad and Noisy Gallery, Creemore. I am very pleased that the results appear much like a variety of abstract paintings without the addition of photo-manipulation (except for large Truck image). I can’t recall being this excited about a subject in a long time. I hope you enjoy viewing the Artful Rust Collection.