Ross Bleckner Recalls the Emotional and Artistic Impact of Africa

Question: What part of your experience in Uganda affected you the most?

Bleckner:    My overall reaction to the program and to that part of the world was, emotionally, very overwhelming.  I mean, I was expecting it to be difficult but, you know, there’s a lot you see, you know, there’s a lot of children who have been really victims of atrocity.  And it’s sad and… You know, but the people are wonderful.  And I think that the work that the kids did and when I was surprised by… And… Which actually kind of gets to the heart of what it is to be an artist is the amazing optimism in the face of so much brutality.  The amazing courage and the generosity and the optimism of these kids that’s in their work, that was in the work and the joy that they had and kind of reframing their experience in positive terms.  So that, to me, was very encouraging.  And, you know, it kind of is, to me, an extension of what being an artist means. 

The painter can never forget the optimism of the children he met in Africa.

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