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News :: Human Rights
Art Exhibit Portrays a Haiti of Hope and Promotes the Right to Play
28 Apr 2010
CLEARWATER: On Friday, April 30th, starting at 6pm, international photographers Gracia Bennish and Brad Kugler will showcasing their photos of Haiti at “For the Future/For the Children: Two Views of Haiti” exhibit at System Productions in downtown Clearwater. (34N. Garden Ave).
Girl with child by Brad Kugler - web.jpg
Two Survivors by Gracia Bennish - web.jpg
Sponsored by Reedy Photographics of St. Petersburg, the more than 30 photos show the many facets of Haiti, from the destruction of January’s earthquake to the simple beauty of a girl carrying her brother down a forest path.

The event includes live entertainment, followed by a DJ and refreshments courtesy of Bellini Restaurant. Both artists will be on hand to answer questions about their experiences in Haiti.

The exhibit is free, but in keeping with the theme of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights Article 24, (“Everyone has the right to rest and leisure”), guests to the exhibit will have the opportunity to sponsor dolls and toy cars which will be given to the children at the Future of Haiti Orphanage.

“For a child in the United States, they would never even question the right they have to be children and to play,” says Elena Chiancianesi, one of the event’s organizers and a supporter of the orphanage. “In Haiti, there are children who are working almost from the moment that they can walk. They don’t have toys. They are lucky if they have toys.”

The orphanage was created when native of Haiti Reginald Jean, lost his two orphanages with 200 orphans prior to the earthquake, as one collapsed and the other unlivable.

To give those orphans and other children who have lost their family a home, he teamed up with a group of Church of Scientology Volunteer Ministers from Florida, Youth for Human Rights Florida, Clearwater Academy International, Washburn Academy, Delphi Academy of Florida, and International Youth Theatre.

As humanitarian L. Ron Hubbard stated, "Save the child and you save the nation".
They combined their efforts to rebuild an orphanage, with the idea of building leaders to improve the conditions of Haiti. Spearheading this collaboration was four sisters, Barbara, Doria, Elena and Michela Schneider who today are giving a home and education to 116 orphans.

“Two Views of Haiti” will be on display at System Productions until the 15th of May.


# # #

ABOUT THE ARTISTS:

The President of the Tampa Bay Chapter of United for Human Rights and Award winning photographer Gracia Bennish describes her photographs as art that “captures the intensity of emotion of life’s defining moments”. Her photographs cover a gamut of emotions from political and civil unrest in Southeast Asia, Africa or Bagdad to capturing the faces of devastation and hope in the recent Haiti earthquake. From marketing of Fortune 500 companies such as McDonald’s, Motorola and Merrill to heart-felt animal stories in the pages of Africa Geographic, there are no limits to her art. But since the recent earthquake in Haiti, her heart is in Haiti. "While there was great suffering by the Haitian people, there were also men and woman of good will who came to Haiti to help save lives,” says Ms. Bennish. “This strength of spirit of the Haitian people and those who came to help was truly the brotherhood of man and inspired my heart and eye as a photographer."

Brad Kugler’s photographs can be seen in a variety of avenues from newspapers, to fashion magazines, to museum exhibits. His eye has caught the emotions of people from around the world as he has traveled extensively, photographing people in China, South Korea, France, South Africa, Israel, Ireland, and beyond. But his most memorable experience is his recent time spent capturing pictures of hope after the earthquake in Haiti, which have been featured on national news and shows such as David Letterman and NBC Today Show. Kugler says, “I like to take pictures that capture the essence of what I find best in people...achieving their own happiness as they experience life and others, helping others.”

This work is in the public domain