Hello friends and followers,
After nearly a year of working with Nong Mai and Wichai at Baan Piranan, in the last few weeks we have been planning a large-scale exhibition of the amazing work that they have generated, and, on Saturday, November 14th, all of our planning paid off with UNCAGED: The Art of Ability. UNCAGED was a full, cross-medium retrospective featuring paintings, pastels, umbrellas, lanterns, even some cardboard sculptures! Having gained international recognition (being featured in an Australian newspaper and exhibiting a show at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, USA) it was time that the artists gained a bit of local prestige! With the generous help of our sponsors, friends, donators, staff and fellow volunteers, Saturday night we held the remarkably successful opening reception for UNCAGED: The Art of Ability right here in Chiang Mai.
As you, kind blog-followers, must know, Mai and Wichai’s stories are not easy to hear. To put it far too simply, the boys have lived a life of neglect and abuse. Childhood was once a word that was unable to find its way into their harrowing pasts. Yet, in the last year, Mai and Wichai have been given not only care and love, but also the power of creation.
To most of us, our first act of creation is not remembered. Our first experience holding a crayon, covering a paintbrush in a sticky mess of paint, or sitting in front of an easel is, in the span of our lives, an insignificant event – a simple and universal experience of childhood. Yet, when Cultural Canvas Thailand visited Baan Piranan for the first time, just eleven short months ago, our volunteers watched as these children – teenagers, really – touched paint to paper for the first time in their lives.
UNCAGED was a success beyond words. Financially, UNCAGED raised more than 45,000 baht in painting sales and donations for the continued support of Baan Piranan and the Canvas Art Program and also led to the sponsorship of over 10 wheelchairs for Freedom Wheelchairs valued at over 100,000 baht. However, perhaps more substantial than any amount of money, was the power that UNCAGED gave Mai and Wichai. Two voiceless boys, once subjugated to treatment worse than most anyone would award to animals, were given a voice too loud to ignore. While all of us at Cultural Canvas were cloaked in compliments at the exhibition, the real praise should be awarded to Mai and Wichai, whom, at fourteen years old, are just starting to understand childhood.
For more photos of UNCAGED and to read more about Mai, Wichai, and the exhibition, visit www.uncaged.yolasite.com.
While UNCAGED was a great success, there is still so much more that needs to be done…
To make a donation to Baan Piranan, visit http://www.baan-piranan.org.
To help Cultural Canvas Thailand’s Canvas Art Program continue to bring voices to minority populations in Northern Thailand through the arts, visit http://www.culturalcanvas.com.
Love from Chiang Mai,