Spring Flavor and Style

- April 2, 2012

"I am ready for a new season....it begins with spring..."

Spring has arrived with promises of rebirth, renewal and shiny new life challenges. I travel to the East Coast to participate in a tour of three cities with Art for Health. Art For Health is a concept of global proportions. Itʼs mission is to bring the art and culture of the African Diaspora to the world and raise money and awareness for Hope International for the Tikar People.

Hope International for Tikar People (HITIP) is a nonprofit, community-based organization established to improve the quality of life for marginalized indigenous Tikar and Bedzan (Pygmy) people in The Republic of Cameroon. HITIP collaborates with local villages to implement sustainable health, education and art projects that meet the needs of at-risk individuals and communities as a whole. This is a pilot project adaptable for global communities.

I became involved with this global work in Santa Fe when I participated in an event that featured visual art, performance art, great traditional African food, music, a silent auction and film presentations, all to raise money for this worthy work.

Now I am traveling on a three-city, East Coast tour with my colleague Issa Nyaphaga. The focus of this year's Art For Health Tour is HIV/AIDS awareness and securing surgeries for women who have been injured in their daily lives. In remote villages, even everyday life events like cooking can have devastating consequences.

Hope International for Tikar People together with DUCOM Bush Medicine of Drexel University in Philadelphia will be instituting an initiative to provide surgeries and medical assistance. Three women with diverse medical issues have been targeted for surgery and the doctors will be available for healthcare screenings in remote tribal areas. This unique group of medical students from Drexel University did a study revealing many health issues are currently passed to the community through drinking water. A clean water initiative to include installation of a filter system is at the top of their list.

For me, this tour has been educational and intellectually stimulating. I have been in contact with old friends and made lasting new global friends. The talented artists I am privileged to work with have inspired me to create new work and given me a fresh vision. In my hometown of Washington D.C., the beauty of the cherry blossoms and hanging out with some treasured personal acquaintances made for a pleasant respite in the middle of this hectic tour. Interaction with people like filmmaker Tony Regusters, photographer Roland Pugh, Professor Susan Benesch, the amazing team of students from Oberlin College and Dr. John Clark of Columbia University Health Services are now part of my life experience. My high school bestie Valerie Jordan took me for an evening of dancing with the stars and my sweet stepmom Marilyn Chapin sat up with me, sharing some great wine and wise conversation. I also want to thank my editor Stasia De Marco, who never ceases to give me the very best advice and guidance. Sharing this experience with my beautiful daughter Stephanie made the New York show one of the best.

Art For Health has become an integral part of my life and the possibilities of exhibitions in Paris and Bejin suddenly loom as distinct possibilities for me. I am living my life each day with the highest expectation of love and happiness. Negative people and situations have been removed and replaced with the learned ability to remain peaceful and serene, thanks to my wonderful therapist Rick Bastine. My body has been realigned, thanks to Ray and the amazing staff of Santa Fe Pilates.  I am ready for a new season....it begins with spring, the possibilities are endless, I am happy.