Senior Art Exhibit 2005: Lizabeth Waldvogel
Africa is a continent made up of 53 independent countries and over 1,000 different languages. Africa is so large that a full population census has never been made. In total it is estimated to be home to over 748 million people. I choose to do my senior show on this beautiful country because despite all its natural wealth in beauty, African women and children are raped dehumanized daily, 23 million adults are infected with HIV 3 million under the age of fifteen, and civil unrest continues to tear the country and its people apart. We live in an age of technology and communication and I feel that the sole reason more is not being done to help this country is simply, awareness.
20 million people died in the plague of 1347 in Europe. Africa HIV infected will surpass that this year. "AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa," notes the UN report "is the worst infectious disease catastrophe since the bubonic plague." Over the next decade, AIDS will kill more people in sub-Saharan Africa than the total number of casualties lost in all wars of the 20th century combined. Africa contains 80% of AIDS death worldwide. Adequate medical supply and funding is not reaching this country. I feel that our countries standard of living is so high and we waste so much, more for this country could be done.
Africa is a country radically different from our own. The country is immersed with indigenous beliefs and myths. One resent epidemic of infected males violating virgins because of the belief her purity will wash away the HIV. In a country saturated with rape a virgin is hard to find. Therefore, thirteen year olds, ten year olds, eight year olds all the way down to a 9-month-old girl raped by 6 men. In the belief of the younger the virgin, the more potent the cure. In some villages girls are required to have a white star painted on their forehead to symbolize their virginity. This star makes them an obvious target for these infected males. If the girls choose not to have a star put on, the family disowns her because of her dishonor and she is on her own.
I chose to represent the political turmoil and social unrest silently overtaking a nation of natural beauty and rich culture. African masks represent numerous things in African history and culture. Ancestry is very important to the African people as was war and protection. The masks I have constructed represent the civil war that continues to plague the country. Many masks are used in ceremonies to represent gods, spirits of ancestors, animals and good and evil spirits. The International Rescue Committee states that since 1998 up to three-million people have been killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo alone. Fighting over land, oil and basically money and power along with government crime and corruption add to the problem. Dangerous structural fixtures remain a complex and relatively protectionist trade regime, and a concentration of wealth and economic control. Millions more have become internally displaced or have sought asylum in neighboring countries.
Most people never hear of the thousands of rapes, murders, and tortures millions of people are enduring daily, simply because media communication revolves around superficial interests; celebrities, cars, wealth, etc. These topics dominate the news despite seemingly more important issues. I think each person needs to make a choice as an individual to hear these stories and recognize that this is happening. The United States is one of the wealthiest most powerful countries in the world; many do not realize that small contributions can make difference. 70% of its population survives on less than $2 a day. My art is meant to be seen as a communication tool to help with realizing the proportions of the problem, not only in Africa but in countries that share the same hardships. I believe we were put on this earth for a reason, I do not believe I was put here so that I can work my entire life to sustain my lifestyle. So many people face day to day torture, pain, hunger and misery Why not try to make their time on this earth more bearable, to say the least.
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