Art auction supports water charity

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Photo by Victor Kang.

In an auction this weekend, Yalies brought together contemporary art and globally minded philanthropy.

On Friday night, the Yale branch of the non-profit organization Wishing Well, which aims to expand access to clean water in developing countries, held the opening reception for an art auction featuring works donated by undergraduates and Yale School of Art faculty. Called the “Contemporary Conceptions of Water Charity Art Auction,” the event drew about 50 people to Silliman College’s Maya’s Room art gallery. As of Sunday night, the auction, which is ongoing through Thursday, had received over $1,500 in bids and $500 in donations.

The gallery featured 27 works for sale spanning a variety of media including photography, collages, ink drawings, mixed media and sculpture. Excluding student works, the total value of the pieces is appraised at over $6,000, said Sophia Yoo ’13, event director for Wishing Well at Yale. She added that the money raised will be used for building wells in developing nations.

In addition to staging the auction, the event also marked the culmination of a student art contest, “Contemporary Conceptions of Water,” for which students created works using water as their primary subject. Wishing Well at Yale President Lara Fourman ’13 said that for the contest, the organization drew inspiration from photographer Ester Haven’s series “The Story of Jean Bosco”, which depicts Rwandan children around a water fountain. Shot on a well-building trip with Wishing Well, Haven’s photographs were displayed in another Wishing Well gallery exhibit last month at Yale.

“On this trip, they would ask kids to describe water and they didn’t think of it as blue, they thought of water as brown and dirty,” Yoo said. “That’s where the idea for ‘Conceptions of Water’ came from.”

Two of Haven’s pieces were up for auction on Friday evening at a starting cost of $500 each.

Winners of the contest, which ended last Monday and received 18 submissions, were awarded at the reception. Four judges from the Yale University Art Gallery, the Yale Center for British Art and the History of Art department selected Victor Kang’s ’14 macro-photography print of dewdrops, “Droplet on a Leaf,” as the winning piece for its compositional ingenuity and adherence to the competition’s theme, Yoo said. Kang is a photography editor for the News.

“I took advantage of macro-photography and of the medium of water to develop multiple layers within the image,” said Kang, who shot the photos near his home in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The contest’s other winners included Kate Bilinski’s “Débuts Modestes,” which received second place, and Ilana Strauss’s ’14 “Dragon Fish,” which was a finalist. Strauss is a staff illustrator for the News.

Fourman said the works solicited from faculty members consisted of 12 pieces created independently of the auction and one piece created specifically for the event, School of Art lecturer Anahita Vossoughi’s multimedia sculpture, “Umbrella.”

The auction is open to the public and aimed at both Yale students and community members, Yoo said. A preview gallery was held for community members Thursday night, targeting the New Haven artistic community. Including previous Wishing Well at Yale events, Yoo said the auction raised enough money to fund a well costing $5,000.

“Shipwreck,” a $1,000 work in conte crayon on vellum by School of Art painting and printmaking professor Marie Lorenz, attracted a particularly high level of attention from four students interviewed.

“I appreciate that they’re using art as a way to raise awareness,” said Elizabeth Kim ’12, who attended the reception. “It’s unique and unexpected.”

In total, Wishing Well has completed 65 projects in nine countries.

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