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Wishing Well art show aids Ethiopians

Wednesday, October 24, 2007  
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By Jonathan Cannon

An Oklahoma Christian University-based organization hopes to help provide clean water to Africa through art.

Wishing Well will host its second benefit art show at the Oklahoma Christian Art Gallery to raise awareness about conditions in Africa and money to drill much-needed wells throughout Africa.

Visionary Director of Wishing Well Ryan Groves and his brother had the idea to begin the organization. Groves began the Oklahoma Christian chapter in the fall semester of 2006 while his brother started a chapter at Pepperdine University. The Groves brothers believed the organization should do more than just affect change in the health and living conditions of the people of Africa.

“We have a focus not only to change things in Africa by providing clean water, but also to change things here by providing images of humanity,” Groves said.

Groves and the other members of Wishing Well believe the best way to accomplish this goal is through art.

“Art is a gift [from God]. It’s a creative medium used to change people,” Groves said.

Besides affecting American society, Wishing Well also hopes to meet the physical needs of the people of Africa and believes it is their responsibility as a Christian organization to do so.

“We believe that as human beings we have more than just a responsibility, but a calling to go and feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, clothe the naked [and] heal the sick,” Groves said.

The organization accomplishes this by raising money to fund the drilling of water wells in various villages in Africa, focusing primarily in Ethiopia. They work with American contractors to drill the wells in order to insure the quality of work and maintain contact with the village to ensure the maintenance of the well.

“If we build a well in a village, we keep in touch. If a well breaks, we’re going to find people to go fix it,” Groves said. “We don’t want to give people something that can’t be sustained.”

Wishing Well will use proceeds from the benefit to fund the drilling of these wells and future fund-raising events. The event will feature a number of Oklahoma Christian students and alumni artists’ works. The art will be themed toward the conditions and culture of Africa.

“Not all of these pieces are death and destruction. It’s the culture of Africa; that’s what we’re showcasing here,” Groves said. “We don’t want you to feel guilted into this; we want you to feel like you’re a part of it.”

The show will be on Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. People visiting the gallery can buy the original works at the show, professional prints of the works, T-shirts and bags. Wishing Well will also accept donations, which will go entirely to the drilling of wells.

There will be many different styles of art featured in the show, including abstract, urban and even some pieces that “address the situation in a more comedic way,” Groves said.

Wishing Well members hope this show will be even more successful than last year’s benefit, which raised over $5,000.

“It has a lot of potential,” Travis Hughes, Wishing Well member, said.

Besides buying art, there are a number of other things students can do to benefit the cause.

Along with praying for the cause, students can “sign-up on the mailing list at that actually does help the organization. When we go to bigger companies we can say, ‘we have this many people on our mailing list, or in the Facebook group,’” Groves said.

Wishing Well also hopes to use the talents of students on campus. “If you’re an artist, create; if you’re in public relations or communications, come talk to us and we can find a way to fit you in,” Groves said.

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