I established a charity in my hometown of Rizhao, China providing educational funds for local low-income youths through art sales. The recipients identify a woman inspirational in their lives, write a short statement about their choice and draw or paint a portrait of their chosen person. These portraits are integrated with my art, along with their writings and photographs.
The effect is dramatic. Girls and boys understand the importance of women when they see their words and come to understand, the value of art. The kids realize they have talent and ability to create and to express themselves, and that they have ideas and feelings worth expressing and being seen. Art becomes real to them, a life-changing realization for grade schoolers.
My hope is that these realizations will positively affect their lives and their families, and create a conversation to influence how women are considered in society.