Pamela's ArtPrize 2012 Series
Voted Top 100 Finalist
Raising awareness for the women and children of Congo
Displayed at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel • Grand Rapids
Courage Ablaze: The Inspiration
“Courage,” C.S. Lewis said, “is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.”
Toni's smile and quiet strength drew me. Although her native language was French, a few simple words bridged our lives, and the distance between a Congolese refugee and an American artist narrowed.
My life collided with Toni and other Congolese women at an event where their native dresses trimmed in cowry shells captivated my artistic eye. Before meeting these women, I knew nothing of their country except that it was located somewhere in Africa. The new friendships opened my understanding to Congo's horror of massive-scale rape and genocide.
Though the flames of adversity blazed through the Congolese stories—leaving a charred landscape, these women are rising out of the ashes and rebuilding a new future for their families. Their Portraits of Courage reveal the fierce determination within these remarkable people.
Note: Pseudonyms and models have been used to protect identity. Stories used by permission.
The Flame Tree
The copper tree represents the African Flame Tree, a resilient tree that showcases brilliant red flowers. The charred frames symbolize the family members slaughtered in Congo's holocaust. Since the beginning of the genocide, an estimated six million people—fathers, mothers, sons, daughters—have been savagely killed.
Though vicious enemies have sought to annihilate the Congolese people, their sturdy generational roots continue to grow. Glowing faces rise under the blackened frames portraying their courageous spirits. And these refugees, like the Flame Tree's blossoms, still radiate stunning beauty.
NOTE: Models have been used to represent the Congolese survivors.
Image: The Flame Tree, Pamela Alderman, Multi media, 48x95 inches, 2012
Congo's Silent Heroes (part of the ArtPrize 2012 Courage Ablaze series)
Mass rape is cheaper than bullets, and it creates more instability. The women feel defenseless; the men are rendered powerless. The goal of sexual violence is simple: Shame the women. Break the men. Destroy a nation.
To the estimated two million Congolese women who have been raped, Congo's Silent Heroes, I dedicate this work.
Pamela has been an ArtPrize artist since 2009
Since 2009, ArtPrize is the world's largest open art competition. This 19-day event in Grand Rapids, Michigan draws more than 500,000 visitors with around 1500 participating artists. This unique event involves local and international artists, art, and active community participation. Veteran ArtPrize artist and facilitator Pamela Alderman is known for creating a new kind of artist/viewer work that invites audience collaboration. Her work lets others speak and respond. In 2015, her work, Hometown Hero, was voted into the Top 20 and finished 3rd Place for Time-Based exhibits.
Courage Ablaze works donated to Grand Valley State University of Grand Rapids, Michigan; Women At Risk, International of Grandville, Michigan; and Bethany Christian Services of Grand Rapids, Michigan