13 November, 2018 | Share Article
Celebrating the launch of the CAMA Foundation alongside the Art Beyond the Canvas installation, CAMA Gallery also presents Iranian art in an exhibition of photographs by prestigious Iranian film directors.
Our Senior Associate Partner and DTLA / NELA specialist Kelly Griffiths and I recently had the pleasure of meeting Chris Grava, Co-Founder & President of non-profit Intsikelelo, whose mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable children in South Africa by developing and supporting community-driven initiatives, for a private viewing of an installation at The Container Yard. The installation “Art Beyond The Canvas” explores the nonprofit work of three organizations: Intsikelelo, CalEarth, and Eco Domes Africa.
The centerpiece of the installation is a 6 or 7 minute Virtual Reality experience focused around the people and the construction of the newly constructed Langbos Children’s Shelter in South Africa, a project led by Intsekelelo and Eco Domes Africa that fed, trained, and employed 30 multi-generational local community members in its construction.
The images of the community members who rallied together to learn how to construct using a method of construction they’d never been exposed to before called “Superadobe building” are quite breathtaking, and juxtaposed against the crate containers in The Container Yard, the display is beautiful in and of itself. The real magic comes though from experiencing the VR film which allows you to transport yourself to the construction site, hear the voices and smiles of the children playing, the community members building and the amazing sight of the Children’s shelter they built.
These photos show some of the Langbos families involved in the Langbos Children’s Shelter construction. Using Superadobe to construct the Langbos Children’s Shelter allowed us to recruit and train an all-local team in Langbos to carry out this project. As a result, we were able to create jobs and skills training, provide daily nutritious meals to everyone involved, and connect with community members while giving them ownership of the project.
This team of “community builders” included 30 men and women from the Langbos community, ranging from teenage boys to elderly grandmothers. The team included siblings, cousins, neighbors, and in some cases, even parents and grandparents working alongside their children and grandchildren. Aside from a competitive wage and the satisfaction of uplifting their community, the Langbos builders were provided with health support and professional development, including daily healthy meals, free trips to the local clinic, and CV writing workshops.
The community came together for over 35,000 cumulative paid hours of collaborative work to build the Langbos Children’s Shelter. Some team members even saved up their earnings during the project to purchase their own truck, which allowed them to take on and complete another paid Superadobe project constructing an outdoor classroom for a nearby school. Others have also continued to stay involved with Intsikelelo — helping conduct community research, partaking in education sponsorships, and continuing to work in various community-focused roles.
Celebrating the launch of the CAMA Foundation alongside the Art Beyond the Canvas installation, CAMA Gallery also presents Iranian art in an exhibition of photographs by prestigious Iranian film directors. CAMA Foundation aims to create an impact which goes beyond art by promoting positive change and reform, looking at multiple initiatives which empower vulnerable individuals through collaboration, innovation and sustainable design.
The confluence of these entities comes together with the project displayed in the Virtual Reality film — the Superadobe building method was developed by late Iranian-American architect and humanitarian Nader Khalili, whose legacy lives on through Cal-Earth Institute, a Southern California based education center that continues to teach and advance the unique, environmentally-friendly building method which utilizes mostly on-site materials along with concrete-enforced and tamped earth in the continuous tubing which then gets stuccoed and forms the shelter.
I couldn’t help but smile as I was immersed into the experience through the virtual reality goggles, and seeing the joy on the faces of the community members whose lives were all improved by this project was truly magical.
The installation runs November 2–14, 2018 at The Container Yard Los Angeles.
I urge you to visit the sites of each of these groups even after the installation closes!