A visit to a Kenyan slum inspires a series of compelling paintings.
Open sewers are seldom the subject of art, but Seattle-based artist Andrea Krook did not shy away from painting them following a visit to Soweto, a slum in Nairobi, Kenya.
Andrea visited Soweto with a group from her church, which funds World Vision development programs in the community. She was struck by the magnitude of the destitution she saw there.
Among the heartbreaking memories was visiting a single mother of six who was dying of AIDS. “AIDS is such a private thing, but she was gracious enough to allow us in and talk a little bit about what it is like. I recall how skeletal she was. Things like that I will never forget,” Andrea says.
On her return home, Andrea resolved to sponsor a child in Kenya. But as time went on, she felt she could do more. She became a World Vision Child Ambassador—a volunteer recruiter of child sponsors. She also decided to use some of her photographs as a basis for paintings that could bring the critical needs of Soweto to a wider audience.
Some of her works are pointed. In “They Do Have Faces,” the children’s faces are dark blobs.
“I left out each face because I feel Americans often ignore Africa—and anyone, for that matter, living in poverty. We look the other way,” she says.
Other paintings are optimistic, including one that shows a thriving general store that benefitted from a World Vision income-generation project.
So far, Andrea has had three exhibitions of her African paintings, which have given her a chance to talk about the benefits of sponsorship. Ultimately, she hopes to find 1,000 sponsors for children. “I’m not a wealthy person, but I feel I have a responsibility to these little ones who can’t help themselves,” she says.
TO LEARN MORE about becoming a World Vision Child Ambassador, visit www.worldvision.org/childambassador.