The 2014 Awardees
This spring, I was approached by Michael Fields of Dell’Arte International to design the 2014 Prize of Hope. This annual award is given jointly by Dell’Arte and the Danish Institute of Popular Theatre. The founders describe the meaning of the prize as:
“It is given to an individual or theatre who has worked for the hope of humanity; daring, loving, vulgar, serious, poetic—a flash of energy directed against habitual ways of thinking, which are the greatest threat to our culture—for a world in which people use their own eyes, ears, and voice!”
It was a great honor to be asked to create the prize, but even more special because this year’s recipient was Clowns Without Borders! CWB does amazing work, bringing joy, laughter and hope to people in areas of recent conflict and/or disaster. The honor was even more more special due to the fact that I know so many terrific volunteer clowns who have made expeditions. I have heard many of their stories from Haiti, South Africa, Colombia, the Philippines, and more. It is always inspiring.
The Mission of Clowns Without Borders:
Clowns Without Borders offers laughter to relieve the suffering of all persons, especially children, who live in areas of crisis including refugee camps, conflict zones and territories in situations of emergency. We bring levity, contemporary clown/circus oriented performances and workshops into communities so that they can celebrate together and forget for a moment the tensions that darken their daily lives. We also seek to raise our society’s awareness of affected populations and to promote a spirit of solidarity.
CWB recognizes that our work is made up of small moments. Although small and purely emotional, these moments build upon each other staying with children as they grow and supporting their incredible resilience. CWB works with relief organizations addressing psycho-social needs of those who suffer from traumatic situations. We are not doctors, psychologists or social-workers, but together with these professionals and community participation we create joyful experiences from which children and their communities thrive.
Check out this fabulous video put together for the 2014 Prize of Hope ceremony:
Designing the Prize
Every year, the Prize of Hope is different. An artist is commissioned to make a mask/sculpture that reflects their interpretation of the work of the recipient.
I know many professional clowns, circus artists and theatre professionals who have volunteered their time and skills to make these relief expeditions.
On their return, they often speak of new perspectives gained, of greater realizations of the disparities present in our world, and of the power of joy. Joy, even in these small moments, can transform the monotony of a refugee camp. It can help people get through another day. It gives them reason to believe and cause to hope.
With this idea, I began my work. I wanted to create a mask of joy, one that both reflected and caused that wonderful feeling.
The other guiding thought was that of our interconnectedness. Despite geographies, political boundaries, ideologies, and complex histories, we are all one. We all live on this earth, and our nourished by light of the sun. Much like joy, the sun lights our way, helps us to grow. It is not always visible, but we put our faith in it, and it gives up hope.