WALL OF COURAGE
Wall of Courage is a sobering instrument of humanization. It is a monolithic art installation that captivates the viewer at first glance. The sheer magnitude of it compels a closer look and that is when it grabs your heart and squeezes, making you feel emphatically human. It is sobering, thought provoking, sometimes hard to look at and beautiful beyond words.
This flagship piece of Heather Haynes’ art is the culmination of 20 plus years on a creative journey that has taken her to the some of the world’s most grim and turbulent places. One place in particular is the city of Goma in Democratic Republic of Congo.
A quest inspired by Lisa Shannon’s book A Thousand Sisters led Heather to Goma in 2011 in search of women’s stories on which to base a new series of art. A missed opportunity to interview a tormented Rwandan woman turned into a fortunate incident that ultimately turned Heather’s world on its head. What seemed like a casual encounter with Congolese gentleman Kizungu Hubert on the patio at Ubumwe Hotel in Gisenyi, Rwanda, was instead a life changing moment for both Haynes and Hubert.
Since 2012, Haynes and Hubert have worked tirelessly to help DRC’s most vulnerable populations - orphaned children. The children portrayed in Haynes’ Wall – with the collective moniker Tchukudu Kids – are orphans under Hubert’s care. One year to the day of Haynes’ and Hubert’s initial meeting, the children moved into a new home built with funds collected from Haynes’ friends and family. It was result of Heather’s relentless conviction that helping was the only right and proper thing to do.
During that same time Heather began creating portraits of the children as her newest body of work. At one point during the creative process she laid them out on her studio floor to photograph and it was immediately apparent that she had to create a portrait for all of the children. “I chose to paint 80 children for this piece because that was number of children under our care when their new home was finished,” says Haynes. Wall of Courage is 80 panels, each measuring 24 x 36 inches. When assembled it measures at 40 feet wide by 12 feet high.
Wall of Courage was launched at Shenkman Arts Centre in Ottawa in July, 2016 where it was displayed for a month. ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, Michigan was the second stop on the tour, where it was shown from Sept 21 until October 9, 2016. With over 440,000 attendees, ArtPrize is the world’s largest art competition. In November 2016 Wall of Courage was exhibited at The Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. The Wall made it's 2nd international appearance by exhibiting in Seaside, Florida in the Assembly Hall of the Seaside Academic Village. In 2017 Wall of Courage was shown at The Firehall Theatre in Gananoque, ON. During this exhibition several successful fundraising events were held with Wall of Courage as a magnificent backdrop.
For three years, Heather worked on Wall of Courage, and she has now created a documentary film that shows the inspiration, creation and realization the project. Here is a link for your viewing pleasure --> Link