December 6th- 27th, 2008
Tinney Contemporary is pleased to announce an exhibition of original art created by the Lost Boys of Sudan who make Nashville, Tennessee their home. These works include beautifully handcrafted ceramic masks, sculptures, pottery, and paintings and will be on exhibit at the gallery from December 6th thru December 27th, 2008. In this time of economic difficulty it is important to continue to give to those in need. It is in that spirit of giving that Tinney Contemporary will donate a portion of all sales from the exhibit to the Lost Boys Foundation.
For the past year-and-a-half, the Lost Boys of Sudan have been working under the supervision of Nashville fine arts photographer Jack Spencer, founder of The Lost Boys Foundation of Nashville and The Lost Boys Center & Gallery. Jack serves as the gallery's artistic director and has worked closely with these young men to help them develop their creativity. The works they have created are unique and inspiring. The story of their war-torn lives is told through some of their works, however, some pieces tell of happier, more beautiful times. The Lost Boys of Sudan were forced to flee from their families and villages as young children. Most were between the ages of 5 and 15. When their villages were invaded, these young boys fled for their lives and most never had the chance to see their families before leaving.
Some 20 years later, many still have not seen or even talked their families. As they met up with boys from other villages who had also been forced to flee, they banded together to look for safety. Their journey took them a thousand miles on foot to refugee camps. Along the way, many of them saw their friends attacked and killed by wild animals, eaten by alligators, drowned, or die from starvation or dehydration. They were forced to eat grass, mud, and leaves to survive and many died from eating poisonous plants. At times they had to drink their own urine to survive. Of the approximately 70,000 boys that were forced to flee, about half of them died along the way.
In late 2000, the United Nations along with such charity groups as World Relief and Catholic Charities brought 3,600 of these young men to the United States from refugee camps. Of that number, 150 were placed in Nashville. With basically only the clothes they had on, and little knowledge of the modern world, they were placed in various housing situations. Most knew nothing of electricity and modern conveniences such as stoves, washing machines, automobiles, telephones or even such simple things as can openers. Three months after being brought to the states, they were expected to be on their own just as any other refugee. However, these young men knew nothing of having to pay rent, utilities, buying food, or caring for themselves independently. Many churches in the area helped them and some continue to be a source of support.
All of them came with the idea of getting an education so they could return to their beloved Africa and make a better life for their families there. That dream for many, however, has not become a reality. Being too old for high school, and lacking the necessary education to attend college presented a new challenge for them. Some were able to pass the GED and enter college, but soon found the costs of tuition, books, etc. were impossible for them to afford. For many, the high cost of life's necessities has caused them to put that dream of an education on hold. Jack Spencer, the founder of The Lost Boys Foundation of Nashville, was working on a series of portraits of the Lost Boys when Pel Gai, one of the boys he had photographed, was murdered in 2004. There were no funds to bury Pel and the Lost Boys took up a collection among themselves to pay for his funeral expenses.
When Jack heard about this, he immediately pulled together some of his close friends and they matched the funds raised by the Lost Boys. At that point, Jack realized what a great need there was among these young men and again called upon his friends to help. Together they formed The Lost Boys Foundation of Nashville and set about to enhance the lives of these young men. Jack has spent countless hours working with them to develop their creative talents with the hope that one day they can become self-sustaining artists themselves. The Lost Boys Foundation future goals for helping these young men include assistance with job placement, education, computer classes, help in emergency situations, and a desire to unify and provide a place for them to come together as a community. For his work with the Lost Boys, Jack was recently named one of Bank of America's local heroes and his efforts recognized with a $5,000 award, which he presented to The Lost Boys Foundation.
Tinney Contemporary is located at 237 5th Avenue North. It is one of Nashville's premier art galleries and is very pleased to have the opportunity of being able to share the work of the Lost Boys of Sudan with the people of Nashville. The gallery is open Tuesday thru Saturday from 10 am to 5pm. For more information on Tinney Contemporary visit www.tinneycontemporary.com and to learn more about The Lost Boys Foundation of Nashville, www.thelostboysfoundation.org.