By: Harshitha Anaparthy
For centuries, art has been a form of self-expression bringing people together. Paintings and sculptures have been part of humanity’s shared experience since people lived in caves. Even now, we continue to use artworks to develop connections with others. Given the importance art continues to play in deepening our understanding of the world, American Red Cross youth volunteers hosted an art show where students created works with meaningful subject matter.
Focusing on ideas about developing social changes, two youth volunteers of the Red Cross North Texas Region, Eesha Gundam, Red Cross Club Coordinator, and Devaditya Ray, Red Cross Club Officer, decided to host an art event to spread knowledge about humanitarian issues through the members of local Red Cross Clubs. Their goal was to have club members create artwork that showed specific aspects of a social issue of their choice. According to Gundam, they “wanted to hold some sort of event that would bring together all the Red Cross Clubs in the community.”
The purpose of the event was for clubs to pick different humanitarian elements of the Red Cross: mental health topics like depression and substance abuse; medical health topics like health inequality and the importance of vaccinations and global health, topics such as climate change and the clean water crisis. Club members then created a physical, digital or performance art piece relating to the chosen topic and wrote a short description of their creative piece.
Each artist displayed their respective works at a small banquet hosted at the Red Cross regional office in October 2022. The students had the opportunity to interact with each other and explain the meaning behind their pieces during the banquet. Students also had the opportunity to learn more about the Red Cross International Humanitarian Law during the research for their artwork.
After all the participants had a chance to view the all the work on display and reflect on the humanitarian topics it addressed, the students had the opportunity to vote on the works of art. The artists received first and second prizes based on the results of the poll. Afterward, the students came together to devise a plan to help address each of the humanitarian topics their art depicted as members of the Red Cross.
“I hope we can do many different things like this, that bring the community together,” Gundam said when asked about how she hopes this can help the clubs move forward. “We are planning on doing a recognition ceremony towards the end of the year to bring a lot of the clubs and general members in the North Texas youth together.”
The humanitarian art event succeeded in bringing together the various youth Red Cross clubs across North Texas. It united them in education and in issues surrounding mental health, poverty, global health and additional humanitarian concerns. Students were able to channel their creativity into artistic representations of these topics, which helped them further their understanding of social issues. Overall, the event used art in a very similar way to how it’s been used throughout history: to bring people together and spread valuable messages.