Fierce Creativity at Pace Gallery, New York

Artists create works to raise funds for education programs in Haiti

Image: © Damien Hirst

Artists for Peace and Justice (APJ) will present its second edition of Fierce Creativity at New York’s Pace Gallery from Wednesday October 21 to Saturday October 25, where works by over 45 of today’s most notable artists will be sold to support educational initiatives in Haiti. The four-day exhibition has been curated by Chuck Close and Jessica Craig-Martin who believe “these artworks are the fuel for a simple but powerful weapon: education”, and as such, 100 per cent of all proceeds will benefit APJ, the non-profit organisation founded by filmmaker Paul Haggis to serve the poorest communities in Haiti through programmes in education and healthcare. Monies from the sale will continue to fund the Academy for Peace and Justice – Haiti’s largest free high school that serves over 2,600 children in Port-au-Prince – with specific support given for scholarships, teacher salaries, and overall enhanced programming, and will also support other poor communities in Haiti.

“I joined Artists for Peace and Justice because their model is so unique,” explains Chuck Close. “Witnessing the bureaucratic deadlock after the earthquake in Haiti, APJ quietly took matters into its own hands and started building schools in direct partnership with Haitians.”

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The all-star roster of contributors includes Martin Creed, John Currin, Damien Hirst, Urs Fischer, Jasper Johns, Kiki Smith and Zhang Huan – to name but a few. The varied pieces on view include Chuck Close’s Self Portrait (with Cigarette) ($250,000) – a new jacquard tapestry that is evocative of his iconic Big Self Portrait 1967-68 – and Beautiful, Whirling Artists for Peace and Justice by Damien Hirst ($130,000, pictured), a psychedelic spin painting c2008.

Colourful, photographic works by Jessica Craig-Martin including Let’s Party ($8,000), and Michael Craig-Martin’s Untitled (Credit Card) ($75,000), a bold acrylic on aluminum work sit alongside Martin Creed’s graphic Work No.1761 ($55,000), a “neo-neo-Dada” Untitled installation by Urs Fischer ($75,000) made of wax and encaustic pigment, and a beautiful intaglio print by Jasper Johns – also Untitled ($15,000). Rounding out the offerings is a painterly portrait entitled Katherine by Alex Katz ($44,000), and Adam McEwen’s neo-conceptual inkjet print on cellulose sponge creation ($25,000) that keeps the viewer guessing.

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With the help of like-minded partners including watchmakers Bovet 1822 and Italian jeweller Vhernier – two luxury firms similarly committed to APJ initiatives – and with staging by Pace Gallery, Fierce Creativity is set to raise over $2m to help children in need attain an education. In the words of the artists themselves: “Diplomas carry those holding them out of the slums forever, and with this exhibition we are boldly helping to demolish the barriers imposed by endemic poverty.” This is smart art indeed…

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