All posts by itp460

Mending Communities: Fabric Artist Clara Wainwright


“Mending Baghdad” by Clara Wainwright. Photo copyright Richard Howard.

“Mending Baghdad” by Clara Wainwright. Photo copyright Richard Howard.

Please enjoy listening to our interview.

When communities have stories to be told or wounds to be healed—and all of them do—art offers a powerful answer, a way to preserve history, a means for expressing cultural priorities, or even a sort of talisman to help people through difficult times. One might look at the AIDS Quilt as an embodiment of all three.

Fabric artist Clara Wainwright has used her art in other charitable ways, but this idea of using it to build, unite, and heal communities is a hallmark of her body of work. Witness “Mending Baghdad” (above), which Wainwright created in response to a photo of a war-battered Baghdad she saw on the cover of a newspaper during the first Gulf War. She left the quilt unfinished, gluing down pieces instead of sewing them, so that she could then use the work as a centerpiece of discussion or a catalyst for emotional release as other people finished the quilt. At various workshops around the U.S. and the U.K., participants “mended” the city of Baghdad, a potent metaphor for their sympathy and sorrow for the innocent lives lost or disrupted in the war, and a starting point for exploring their understanding of the war and its consequences.

A prominent New England textile artist, Wainwright has pieces in the permanent collections of the Boston Museum of Fine Art and others. And not long ago, Art Corps named her as one of their two 2012 Creative Activists. We hope you enjoy hearing her talk about her art and how it fits like a puzzle piece into the world around her.

“Surrounded By Water” by Clara Wainwright. Photo copyright Richard Howard.

“Surrounded By Water” by Clara Wainwright. Photo copyright Richard Howard.

Published November 7, 2012

We’re growing!

In January here at The Lamp Project we…

• had our first month with over 1,000 page views on the site.
• topped 250 Facebook fans.
• welcomed a social media team of five very generous volunteers.
• began sorting through artist submissions for inclusion in our book, How Art Can Help End Violence Against Women.
• began developing our first educational programs.
• started work on a website redesign.

Thank you for supporting The Lamp Project in our mission to illuminate and support socially engaged artists! We’re thrilled to have you as a part of the community of passionate and compassionate people forming around this intersection of arts and causes.

Contact us to learn more or to get involved.

Creativity is a Human Right: Community Art Center


“Creativity… is a human right,” says Eryn Johnson, Executive Director of the Community Arts Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Neighborhood families first founded the center in 1932. To this day the center has remained loyal to its initial mission “to cultivate an engaged community of youth whose artistic voices transform their lives, their neighborhoods and their worlds”.

Yet the pursuit of self-expression is often hindered by want of other needs. Johnson admits that maintaining the arts program in a community where many residents do not have their basic needs met is a huge challenge. In addition to art classes the center provides meals, transportation and counseling free of charge. “We have to make sure they are getting what they need, in order for them to be able to participate as fully as they really are able to.”

Watch the interview with Eryn Johnson to hear for yourself how arts education transforms far more than the life of just one child.

Listen to the podcast below:

Published July 11, 2013

A musician’s dream: Malcolm Cross and The Possibility Project


“Rehearsal for The Possibility Project’s “Stop Requested”. Photo: Agnes May Photography.

Rehearsal for The Possibility Project’s “Stop Requested”. Photo: Agnes May Photography.

Listen to the interview:

Malcolm Cross moved to Los Angeles from London for a record contract he signed with his band. Thanks to the charm of the city, the opportunities, and a lovely American woman who eventually became his wife, Malcolm never ended up leaving. Since moving to L.A, Malcolm has achieved the musician’s dream. He makes a living scoring music for films, documentaries, commercials, and playing shows with his band. He’s toured across South America, Asia, Europe and the States. Still, something seemed to be missing. Malcolm explains that, “as a professional musician it can feel like it’s all about me… it can be very egocentric. Teaching is one way to give back, especially working with something like the Possibility Project.”

The Possibility Project uses performing arts education to empower youth to give back to their communities. Although the program originally started in Washington D.C. it has since spread to cities across the U.S. as well as to cape town South Africa and Tel Aviv, Israel. The goal of the program is to create engaged community leaders. Youths join the program for a one-year period during which they write and perform their own musical theater production about their lives.

Malcolm joined the organization’s L.A. chapter as the program’s musical director. He describes his role as primarily an editor. Rather than writing or composing music for the show, he helps the teens turn their own musical ideas into a reality. Malcolm noticed that the teamwork and the intensity of the creative process required to create a show allows the participants to process many of the issues they are writing about. “As much as the content of the show, I think its this feeling of, ‘we just created this company this team of people that can rely on each other, that know each other well and who have got each other’s backs,’” says Malcolm.

“Rehearsal for The Possibility Project’s “Stop Requested”. Photo: Agnes May Photography.

Rehearsal for The Possibility Project’s “Stop Requested”. Photo: Agnes May Photography.

This past L.A. Possibility Project performance was put on by an all-foster-care cast. It was through this production that Malcolm met participant Adreanna “AJ” Patterson, co-writing the song “Shine,” which Adreanna performs in a magnificent solo. Enjoy this interview with Malcolm and AJ, and keep your eye out for the next possibility project performance near you.

Published October 3, 2013

Unique Voices, Shared Visions: Meena Nanji and GlobalGirl Media


“GlobalGirls (L-R) Ariana Seymore, Andrea Reyes, Wendy Garcia, Yasmeen Abdullah, Imani Crenshaw

GlobalGirls (L-R) Ariana Seymore, Andrea Reyes, Wendy Garcia, Yasmeen Abdullah, Imani Crenshaw

The idea that we cannot trust the images that saturate our everyday lives is cliché. We suspect the delectable vanilla ice cream in that commercial is really mashed potatoes; we know the actress making eyes at us from the cover of that magazine in the checkout lane is radiant with the grace of Photoshop. Bitter footage delivered to our screens by the news media seems to be a welcome antidote to the cloying wine of those other, clearly misleading, images. At times we still forget that the camera lens ceases to be neutral the moment someone decides where to point it, even as we rely countlessly on such decisions to give us a faithful picture of the most significant issues and events in our communities and beyond.

In the U.S., that “someone,” the average journalist, is white and male. Women and minorities continue to be vastly underrepresented in the media, especially in managerial positions, and there has been little progress toward greater diversity since the 1990s; indeed, there has even been a decline in some categories over the past few years. This incongruity hardly guarantees a panoramic view of the world. Enter GlobalGirl Media.

GlobalGirl Media is a non-profit organization working to put cameras, along with other tools of the journalistic trade, into the hands of young women from underserved communities in the U.S. and around the globe. While still in high school, program participants receive training in new media journalism, learning to speak out about the issues that affect them and their communities, and preparing to be leaders in a world that is changing rapidly with the proliferation of digital technology and social media.

One of the founders of GlobalGirl Media, award-winning filmmaker Meena Nanji, spoke to The Lamp Project about the organization, as well as her work as an artist with a commitment to finding common ground wherever she goes. Nanji has directed a number of short films, including Voices of the Morning, an experimental telling of a young woman’s coming-of-age under Islamic law, and the award-winning full-length documentary View from a Grain of Sand, which follows three Afghani women who fled the violence in their homeland to live as refugees in Pakistan. These personal stories are presented as part of the larger narrative of the violence and injustices suffered by Afghani women over the past several decades and even to this day. The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) gradually becomes a fourth character in the documentary.

“Afghani girls in a Pakistan refugee camp in 2001

Afghani girls in a Pakistan refugee camp in 2001

“Still from View from a Grain of Sand

Still from View from a Grain of Sand

According to Nanji, the best part of traveling and engaging with people of different backgrounds is “finding shared visions in places or people where you least expect them.” In her most recent film, Here and Away, Nanji draws inspiration from different, and diverse, sources. She made the film “on a whim” while in India, after reading “Children on a Country Road,” a short story by Franz Kafka. “I was inspired by that story to transpose it into an Indian setting, and make a short film, that is shot in documentary style, though it is fiction,” Nanji explained. “I feel it captures a certain mood of a village in India, the pace of life perhaps… the many sounds that make up an environment.” However, despite the variety of projects that she pursues, Nanji’s work is unified by her ethical and intellectual commitments, her artistic vision. “I think my works are pieces of a larger, coherent ethical project, even though they may not appear that way,” Nanji said. “For the last little while I have been more open to doing projects that were not originally conceived by me, or doing work-for-hire, but I have found that if I don’t agree with their basic concept or ethics, or values, I just cannot do them. I do sometimes pursue ventures that might be sudden leads, but these always fit into my larger conceptual/ethical framework.”

Nanji’s work with Global Girl Media is an extension of the filmmaker’s ethical project; indeed, Nanji came to co-found the organization in part as a response to her experiences while making View from a Grain of Sand. “Amie Williams, who originally conceived of this idea, had actually just been in Kenya during the 2007 elections and had witnessed some horrifying violence and a girl she had been sponsoring for years was a victim to this violence,” Nanji recounted. “And so she came back wanting very much to empower girls somehow to tell their own stories. I too, after Afghanistan, felt that instead of taking people’s stories away, why not give them the tools to tell their own stories. So these ideas coincided and GGM was formed, with the idea to train girls in digital media and other low cost methods of storytelling, of so that they could have a direct voice to digital global platforms. We decided on girls as they are the most marginalized in terms of creating digital content, or even having their perspectives listened to in any way, so we thought it was a great place to start.”

At the moment, GGM has branches in Los Angeles, Chicago, South Africa, and Morocco, but the organization hopes to expand to Kenya, Mozambique, and Brazil, as well as other countries in Latin America and the Middle East. On the GGM website, one finds young women sharing their experiences and reporting on a variety of topics, including women’s rights, sexual violence, street drugs, and living with HIV. One also sees how excited they are to discover their voices and be part of the global conversations on these and other issues.

In the few short years since its founding, GGM has built an impressive record of achievements. A series on reproductive health created by the GGM participants in LA last year was distributed by PBS online. This year, GGM held its first world summit in Chicago. A number of the young women who have been a part of GGM have won prestigious awards, gone on to study film and journalism in college, and have been hired by NGOs to continue pursuing their passion. Over the summer, the LA participants worked on a series of webisodes tackling the issue of food justice, which aired in September. Meanwhile, the Moroccan branch of GGM recently produced a documentary on sexual harassment, which premiered on November 25th. These videos and many others created by GGM participants are available on the organization’s YouTube channel.

“GGM LA 2011 training: Nanji with GlobalGirls Denise Peralta and Imani Crenshaw

GGM LA 2011 training: Nanji with GlobalGirls Denise Peralta and Imani Crenshaw1

​Without diverse and unique voices, we cannot get the whole story. At the same time, we cannot understand the whole story without an appreciation for how interconnected all the parts of it really are. This makes a program like GGM indispensable, not only for the participants, but for all of us, as we try to learn the truth and make sense of this world we share.

Published January 23, 2014

On Camera with Painter Calvin Grimm


Calvin Grimm’s paintings allow viewers a window into the enduring beauty of the natural world. His work is abstract and biomorphic, striking in its use of color and line. His canvases draw their power from Grimm’s longstanding relationship with the environment. In the 1970’s, Grimm became involved in the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) as a sea-kayaking and mountaineering expedition leader in Wyoming and Alaska. His experience allowed him to facilitate young people’s understanding and appreciation of the outdoors.

Grimm believes that humans’ firsthand experience with nature is the best defense system against environmental degradation. The premise is simple: people won’t destroy what they know and care about. His work also inspires a deep regret for natural disasters that have already occurred; one painting in particular focuses on the fate of the sea creatures living in Prince William Sound in the wake of the 1989 Exxon-Valdez oil spill, a canvas that Grimm revisited 20 years later after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Grimm’s work and his experience stand as testament to the fulfillment offered by a connection with our natural world. He notes that such a connection seems conspicuously absent in many aspects of our modern life. Hopefully, Grimm’s paintings will not only inspire us to understand and appreciate nature, but also to work towards its protection – ensuring our own flourishing in the process.

Published September 19, 2013


The Lamp Project is a newly formed organization which aims to share the work of artists who are striving to make the world a better place. We need you to provide us with writing, images, video, music, and any other media we can share, we shine a light on the labors and passions of creative people working to improve the world around them—and on the organizations they support.

We need your help for all of this to be possible. The Lamp Project
is a not-for-profit organization on the path to 501(c)(3) status. All work is done on a voluntary basis. Below is a list of open positions we are currently looking to fill. If you want to be involved in another way, we are happy to talk to you about it—just let us know how you’d like to help.

* * * * * * *

Senior Manager of Social Media

Our Senior Manager of Social
Media takes care of our Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest and helps us cultivate a culture of charity and art through these platforms. He or she will also help to plan and oversee our social media strategies and campaigns.

* * * * * * *

Layout Editor

Our Layout Editor makes sure everything that gets posted on the
site looks its best and is easy to read and to find. They tick check
boxes, fill in SEO fields, fiddle with images and video, and craft summaries, among other things.

* * * * * * *


Our Producers see media projects through from inception to
completion—our promos, interviews, artist footage, and podcasts all need producers.

* * * * * * *

Legal Advisor

Our Legal Advisor will keep us up-to-date with potentially litigious situations and will help oversee contracts, disclaimers and other legal arrangements.

* * * * * * *

Manager of Creative Development

Our Manager of Creative Development helps us track down artists
who we would like to support, welcome them into our group, and be their guide and resource throughout interviews, residencies, or however an artist might be involved. This is also a person who likes to tackle special creative projects and is great at matching artistic talents with desired outcomes.

* * * * * * *

Artists Curator

After an artist has finished their current involvement with The
Lamp Project, the support doesn’t stop. Our Artists Curator spends lots of time and energy to help artists meet their goals, find resources, publicize events—everything we can do to take care of these exemplary creators.

* * * * * * *

Institutions Curator

Our Institutions Curator keeps tabs on all the organizations we
have featured or worked with in the past, looking to provide additional support, and to find new opportunities, build new connections, and inspire new efforts.

* * * * * * *

Director of Residencies

Our Director of Residencies will supervise our Artists In
Residence program, working to support our artists, engage them creatively, seed collaborations, develop ideas and projects, connect them with people and organizations relevant to their art or their cause, and meet their needs as artists to the greatest extent that we can.

* * * * * * *

Writer / Interviewer

Our team of writers interviews artists in print, on tape or on
camera, and presents them, their art, and their causes to our audience through writing on the site. Writing ranges from short blog-style entries to full-length articles.

* * * * * * *

Administrative Assistant

Administrative assistant volunteers are invaluable to The Lamp
Project. There is no driving or purchasing—mostly phone, email, calendar. You can use your strengths and help us keep organized, communicate, produce media, and develop our organization.


What does The Lamp Project aim to accomplish?

We envision a world with a higher quality of art, a higher proportion of generous, socially conscious artists, and a more art educated public. Because our focus is on supporting socially-conscious artists, we hope to inspire even more artists to find charities or causes they believe in and bring about changes in their own unique ways.

How does art solve the world’s problems?

We believe that art itself brings people together to discuss, think, and feel. We believe great art touches on those intangibles that really make us human, in much the same way as charity and volunteering do—we feel more connected and fulfilled as humans both when enjoying great art and when helping others. And through all these means, art engenders peace, community and thought while inspiring inquiry and action.

What types of creative communities are supported?

Ultimately, we would like to support great artists in all art forms who are working to better those around them. We believe that there are many people in the world working to discover and promote artists, so we set ourselves apart by supporting those (1) whose work is of extremely high quality, and (2) who are involved with great causes or charities to make the world a better place.

Who can participate?

Everyone. We need truly excellent people on staff to fulfill a huge variety of positions, from creative to technical to administrative, short-term and long-term—see the latest openings at here. We are always looking for great artists to feature.

I want to showcase my art on The Lamp Project site. How can I be featured?

Send links to some of your work, plus a clear description of who you are as an artist and how you are involved in social causes or charity, to We do a lot of proactive scouting for talented artists and as things get busy we may not get back to everyone.

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