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The Cradle Project—A Reminder of the 12 Million African Children Affected by AIDS

As thousands of delegates to the 19th International AIDS Conference gather in Washington, DC, later this month to review progress made in the fight against HIV and AIDS around the world, Aid for Africa and its member organization Firelight Foundation will ask them to remember the children of Africa orphaned by AIDS. This reminder will be in the form of an art installation—The Cradle Project— of some 25 empty cradles created by artists across the U.S. on exhibit at the Washington Studio School, July 18  to August 3.

"Katrina Cradled" Kathy Hughes and Karen Abboud, New Orleans, Louisiana, 36 x 19 x 31 inches

The empty cradles are symbols of the lost potential of 12 million children whose basic needs are threatened by HIV and AIDS in Sub Saharan Africa.  A range of media was used to create the cradles, including recycled wood, metal, glass, and clay.  Each cradle reflects the artist’s compelling vision.  For example, the “Katrina Cradled,” by Kathy Hughes and Karen Abbond of New Orleans, is made from refuse from Hurricane Katrina.

The Cradle Project was conceived and organized by artist and activist Naomi Natale after a visit to Kenya’s slums and tribal reserves.  “If we can see enough potential in discarded materials to build structures meant to cradle a child, then we believe that every one of us will be challenged to see and help realize the potential of our world’s orphaned children,” says Natale.

The exhibit is cosponsored by the Firelight Foundation, the Washington Studio School, and Aid for Africa. The Firelight Foundation supports hundreds of grassroots groups helping families meeting the needs of children affected by poverty and HIV and AIDS in Sub Saharan Africa. 

The exhibit seeks to raise awareness and inspire action, according to Firelight President and Founder Kerry Olson.  “[The cradles] speak to the human heart in a way only powerful imagery and visual art can. Much more than words can say, these cradles speak volumes about loss and also about hope,” says Olson.  

What better way to remind the delegates to the AIDS Conference, and the rest of us, of the burden HIV and AIDS inflicts on children—by speaking to the heart.   

 For a sneak preview of the exhibit and to learn more about the project, view this short video

The Cradle Project, Washington Studio School, 2129 S Street, NW, Washington, DC 20008  Exhibit hours: July 18 to August 3, 2012, Monday-Friday 10:00am-4:00pm; Saturday and Sunday on July 21, 22, 27 and 28 from 11:00am-5:00pm.  Admission is free.