Heather Haynes is an artist, partner, mother, sister, daughter, and friend.
My life has been a steadfast pursuit to find the balance of these roles. I list artist first because that is how I define myself above all else. It has taken me a long time to be able to admit this, although I have recognized it forever. The drive to create will burn inside me forever. But for me, art is much more than creating something pleasant to hang on your wall. My artistic career has led me to some of the darkest places on Earth, with a drive to tell stories you’ve likely never heard before.
From 2013 to 2015, I created a monolithic art installation entitled Wall of Courage, dedicated to orphans in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I had put myself in front of stories of extreme violence, torture, rape, and sometimes the more merciful – death. These children I was meeting had lost everything. As an artist, I did not instantly know what I could do to help them. I soon became convinced that if I could somehow show the world they existed, perhaps their fates could be altered. All of their stories are that of courage and resilience, and I am honoured and humbled to know them. I want others to know them too; for their faces to be seen and for their stories to be heard. The Universe presents us with many options every day. We can choose to grab them or let them slip on by. This one I grabbed ahold of, and I held so tightly that it became a part of me.
Wall of Courage has since inspired many initiatives that are changing the lives of these children and their communities. The project is much bigger than “me,” and it is not limited to these eighty-one children depicted on the Wall. It is a planet Earth project.
I have made a lifetime commitment to support these children with my Congolese brother, Kizungu Luanda Hubert. Through touring Wall of Courage, we have garnered support and funding to provide for over 140 orphans and educate over 700 of the most vulnerable children living in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
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