Credit: Gillian Ferris, KNAU

Credit: Gillian Ferris, KNAU

What is the role of visual art in developing projects that investigate relevant issues in local, national, and global communities? What ethical issues are involved in the creative practices of visual art, and how can they be understood in relation to universal concepts of human rights?

Flagstaff Arts and Leadership Academy National Art Honor Society’s project, Chairs for Change, was a special visual arts event held on March 8, 2015, at the Coconino Center for the Arts. The program raised funds for young girls’ education in developing countries and brought awareness to an issue that is often swept aside. Old chairs, stools, and tables were obtained from local thrift stores and transformed into visual art by students and notable artists throughout northern Arizona. While each chair had a unique look, each one focused on the same theme: the movement to educate girls worldwide. This art was auctioned to the nearly 300 people who attended this event.

Malala Yousufzai states, ” I don’t mind if I have to sit on the floor at school. All I want is an education. And I fear no one.” This statement embodies the chair a symbol for all girls to have an education; it is basic human right.

chairsforchange_categoryJaneece Henes, FALA art educator and NAHS advisor, and students from FALA’s NAHS reached out to students at Montessori of Flagstaff, Hotevilla Bacavi Community School, Flagstaff High, Coconino High, Pine Forest, BASIS, Coconino Community College, and Northern Arizona University—as well as artists through the Hozhoni Foundation, asking them to contribute. Each of these schools contributed art to the project. Local artists, including Bruce Aiken, Connie Townsend, Emma Gardner, Shawn Skabelund, David Lash, and Mike Frick also contributed pieces.

The results:

• The display of nearly 100 pieces of art, displayed and auctioned to benefit the education of girls in developing countries
• $5,000 raised to benefit girls’ education in developing countries through The Malala Fund and One New Education
• Involvement of more than 100 northern Arizonan students
• Coalescence of northern Arizonan artists around a common goal: celebrating art and supporting girls’ education
• Plain, used furniture was transformed into visual art


KNAU story