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.
Your art encourages the eyes and soul…
This exhibit is very life changing! Kylie
I've seen this ArtPrize entry twice now and I still think it is inspirational and very heartfelt.
I can really feel the art in it.
The black cloth forces the spectator to get involved. It is easy to walk by a flat picture.
Pamela has been an ArtPrize artist since 2009
Since 2009, ArtPrize, the world's largest open art competition, draws more than 500,000 visitors to Grand Rapids, Michigan. Veteran ArtPrize artist Pamela Alderman has become known for creating a new kind of artist/viewer work that invites audience collaboration. The work invites individuals into the healing process through participatory art. As visitors engage in the art making, small steps toward healing result. Over ten years of ArtPrize, Alderman's interactive installations, including The Scarlet Cord and Hometown Hero, have touched thousands—one person at a time. This healing art involves you—because you matter!
Courage Ablaze works donated to Grand Valley State University of Grand Rapids, Michigan; Women At Risk, International of Grandville, Michigan; Bethany Christian Services of Grand Rapids, Michigan; and Libertas Foundation of Kalamazoo, Michigan.