Oletha DeVane Awarded Rubys Grant

Congratulations to Oletha DeVane, McDonogh Upper School visual arts instructor and Director of the Tuttle Gallery, on being named a recipient of the 2017 Rubys Artist Project Grant from the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance (GBCA). She is one of nine grant recipients from the literary and visual art fields.

According to the GBCA, “The Rubys are project-based funding of up to $10,000 for emerging and established Baltimore-regional artists to support the creation of innovative artistic projects. The grants support the region’s gems – the local creative community of performing, visual, media, and literary artists.”

DeVane explains that through her work with the Build Haiti Foundation, she feels a strong connection to the people and history of Haiti and would like to contribute as an artist. She will use her grant to work with the youth in Camp Coq to create a mosaic in the plaza of the rural Haitian town.

“The tragic history of poverty, political chaos, and natural disasters in Haiti have had a toll on the rich culture, partly due to colonization and the exploitation of its people,” says DeVane. “There is still a wide range of visual arts practiced in Haiti, including painting, embroidered cloth, clay, and wooden figures.”

“My travels inspire my work, and I try to transport what I learn into a metaphorical space through my use of symbols: found materials such beads, toys, sequins, cloth, wood, and on occasion, video. My body of work serves as much a sacred function as political,” she continues.

In her grant application, DeVane said, “After more than two decades of teaching young people, I think the mosaic plaza project is quite doable if I can get funding for supplies and airfare. I will provide most of the materials and will reuse/repurpose what I find there. My goal is to work with youth, Haitian artists, and the community to provide the content for my next series of prints, spirit sculptures, and paintings.”

DeVane will use her grant for a three-week residency during which she will meet with Haitian artists, work with the youth, and learn the techniques of creating drapo Vodou (hand made Haitian sequined flags) which she would like to incorporate in her work. In addition to the mosaic, she hopes to work with local craftsmen to build a concrete chess/checkers table and chairs for the plaza.

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