When Kevin Macpherson – Founder of Art Ambassador for a Colorful World, met Leslie Baer Dinkel – CEO of Xela AID, the seed for an extraordinary collaboration was formed. While Kevin’s non-profit organization seeks to enable children to blossom through art in remote locations around the globe, Leslie and Xela AID have been empowering the Mayan people of the Guatemalan Highlands for twenty-six years through education, job opportunities, & health care.
The first week of November, 2018, they joined forces and embarked on their inaugural group trip, taking with them twenty-five artists, and art enthusiasts, to Guatemala for ten remarkable days of art and service. When the artists weren’t painting a 17th century church or photographing Mayan women in a colorful village market - they were delivering chickens with their coops to needy families, or rescuing a mother and her children from domestic abuse - and setting them up in a “new” house, new school, and new job!
With participants from Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Mexico, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Washington, it made for an eclectic ensemble of artists from around the country. However, with their common love of art, and their desire to make a difference in the world, these creative people made a powerful impact upon nearly everyone they met in Guatemala – surprising even themselves. In addition to their art and service, the friendships that were formed were the type that last a lifetime.
In the words of many of the artists the trip was “life-changing, humbling, and extraordinary.” In addition to the humanitarian element of the trip, the beauty of the World UNESCO Heritage Site of Antigua was breathtaking, as was Lake Atitlan in Jaibalito. Both spectacular locations, as well as Quetzaltenango (“Xela”) and the nearby quaint village of San Martin where the Xela AID Center is located, offered the artists endless opportunities to compose exquisite paintings.
Additionally, in San Martin, Xela AID has undertaken construction of a three-story building for the purpose of Montessori and public preschool classrooms, plus space for tutoring, literacy, leadership training, and an expanded computer laboratory. There is also rooftop space that will feature an open-air studio which will welcome artists in partnership with Art Ambassador for a Colorful World; the non-profit organization has made a significant pledge.
According to Kevin Macpherson and Leslie Baer Dinkel the trip was a wonderful success; the art ambassadors definitely experienced the concept that “art can change the world.” Consequently, another joint trip to Guatemala has already been scheduled for November 2019. If you are interested, or would like to learn more, check out the links below.