The Painting Activist: Ashley Cecil
Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote “The only gift is a portion of thyself”. At first read, one could argue that Emerson meant giving one’s time and presence to another was the pinnacle of gift-giving. That’s a decent interpretation and it is often the basis of many writers’ ponderings, but Emerson meant for the gift giver to dig a little deeper. He tells us that “a man’s biography is conveyed in his gift” and “Therefore the poet brings his poem; the shepherd, his lamb; the farmer, corn; the miner, a gem; the sailor, coral and shells; the painter, his picture; the girl, a handkerchief of her own sewing”.
Creating art, with a charitable cause in mind, gives artists a unique opportunity to experience Emerson’s sentiment. Ashley Cecil’s story is a fine illustration of this principle and we’d like to share it as part of the Imagekind for Humankind series.
When I launched my art blog in 2006, I decided I was going to focus my painting on illustrative images that told a story about social causes. Still today, when paintings sell I donate part of the proceeds to corresponding charity. This work has led to many wonderful opportunities. One example was being commissioned by Oxfam America to paint a 4′x6′ canvas about the impact of climate change on developing countries.
The painting traveled to Poland in 2008 to a UN convention on climate change. It was an honor to be involved in such a publicized project with international exposure. Over the years, I have also worked with my community groups in disadvantaged urban areas to create public art projects. I love using art in this way to engage people in change and improve quality of life for others.
Way to go, Ashley! I’m sure Emerson would be proud! If you want to support someone’s livelihood, have fantastic art adorning your walls, and help out humankind, check out Ashley’s work and help give a great gift!
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