Wendy Black-Nasta wants to build a wall. Not a wall to keep people out of the country, but a wall to help create a brighter future.
Black-Nasta, founder of Middletown-based Artists for World Peace, is building her wall on Saturday, Dec. 9, in Middletown and will hang hundreds of 6 inch-by-6-inch painted canvases on it. Those who buy the artworks in the “6x6 4 Peace” exhibit are helping to finance a free eye-care clinic on the impoverished Rosebud Lakota Sioux reservation in South Dakota.
“The need is so great. ... There is so much extreme poverty there,” says Black-Nasta. “They don’t have health care. They don’t have hope. This is just a tiny beginning, but we want to do something to bring hope and to take care of the people.”
Artists for World Peace, since its founding in 2003, has held art exhibits, concerts and fundraisers to finance humanitarian missions in various countries: a safe house for abused women in Cambodia, an orphanage in Tanzania, a school in Ecuador, college-funding grants in Nepal, a project to bring shoes to children who can’t afford them.
“Once you spend time in a country taking care of disadvantaged people, you see where you can make a huge difference,” Black-Nasta says.
Artists for World Peace also offers educational endowments for youths in the Middletown area. The organization also gets money from donations, grants and memberships, and relies on volunteers to complete its missions.
The project, called “Native Eyes,” is inspired by Black-Nasta’s late uncle, Luciano Perez. Perez was a Native American (Purépecha) medicine man, who also was made a chief by Chief Leonard Crow Dog of the Lakota tribe.
“He died in 2003. I thought I was starting Artists for World Peace with him,” she says. “I always wanted to do something in his memory.” A delegation of about 50 people — doctors, artists and support staff — will be in South Dakota for the clinic, she says.
About 1,500 artists responded to her Facebook post to provide little paintings for the exhibit, Black-Nasta says, and about half of those will be displayed on the Middletown wall. The rest will be displayed the following weekend, Saturday, Dec. 16, in the big Erector Square complex in New Haven, at the studio of artist-dancer Annie Sailer.
Paintings can be purchased for a minimum donation of $50, but any amount more that that is welcome. Those items that don’t sell can be purchased at a later date from an online gallery at artistsforworldpeace.org.
Black-Nasta says communal projects can improve people’s outlook.
“People say how bad the country is becoming. I see just the opposite. I see people coming together. All you have to do is ask,” she says.
6X6 4 PEACE will take place Saturday, Dec. 9, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at deKoven House, 127 Washington St. in Middletown. The second “6x6 4 Peace” event will be at Erector Square in New Haven, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 16. artistsforworldpeace.org or facebook.com/artistsforworldpeace/.