I’ve known of Lawrence since he was a child because he is my nephew Manuel’s buddy. Lawrence is blind. He lives in El Paso, Texas, my home town. And attends El Paso high school, my old stomping grounds. I had a chance to better acquaint myself with him and his family in July of 2003, when they were in Phoenix, and dropped in to visit my studio.
His grandmother saw some newly completed masks on my walls. At the time I was working on creating a workshop, so I could apply to the Artist Roster at the Arizona Commission on the Arts. She asked if I could come to her school and work with her teachers. She was the principal of Vilas elementary at the time. She thought it would be great if I could teach her faculty the process and they could in turn work with their kids in the upcoming school year. The whole faculty would be involved. I jumped at the opportunity.
By August I was headed to El Paso, to my old neighborhood in fact, to teach a mask making In Service for teachers. The 2 day workshop was successful. I enjoyed all the staff and spent some time with family and friends, and then returned to Phoenix with a very full experience from which to complete the design of my current mask making workshop, The Who Am I Project.
In the process I worked with Lawrence. I made a mask of him at the request of his grandparents. I painted it. He informed me of his color choices, black and white he said. and he specifically asked if I could add African designs. He is of mixed descent, Hispanic and African American. I wondered how he understood color and how would he know an African design say… from Native American design? He answered my questions by simple description. I was impressed. I knew I would make the mask tactile so he could experience it with his hands.
He got excited about the completed work, which I delivered. Why am I telling you about Lawrence?
Lawrence was born with Optic Nerve Hypoplasia. His optic nerve never developed and he has been blind since birth. Recently his family learned of the Shenzhen Beike Biotechnology Company, Ltd. located in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China. This company has partnered with leading scientists, prestigious hospitals across China, and over 250 doctors specializing in delivering stem cell therapy to treat neurological and other ailments.
After researching the company and speaking with two patients who have had very positive results with the treatment, his mother submitted the necessary application requesting treatment for Lawrence. She received a letter of acceptance in March. The doctors in the medical department at Shenzhen Beike Biotechnology Company, Ltd. feel confident that Lawrence’s Optic Nerve Hypoplasia can be treated successfully.
His mom, an El Paso elementary school teacher, has taken action to raise the funds.
My husband really wanted to help out. We decided to donate an artwork to the cause. Hank, over at the Art Center on Yandell street (and my one time employer) agreed to donate the framing.
If you are inclined to contribute, you can donate $10.00. By doing so your name will be entered into a drawing to win this 36″ x 24″, mixed media, framed and matted, painting on paper work I have designed. A name will be drawn at the end of May.
You can send a check payable to Lawrence Brown, for the $10.00. Include your name, address and contact info and mail to:
Georgina A. Brown
4349 N. Stanton Street
El Paso, Texas 79902
Questions? email Goergina
Or you can donate directly to a fund set up for Lawrence Brown III, at any Wells Fargo Bank, Account Number 7579914230. As of this posting, they have acquired over half the funds.
To read more about Lawrence and this procedure, click here.
Update: click here.
*On a side note, I have since continued to teach the Who Am I ? Project across the valley, to adults and kids alike.
UPDATE: Posted on June 11, 2009: Winner of the painting is Mr. Jon Bardouché. He is a world geography teacher at El Paso High. Congrats Mr. Jon Bardouché!