"Change also starts with a brushstroke," is the motto of ARTecho, a Miami-based event created two years ago by Techo, a youth-led non-profit organization which brings artists together to help raise funds for families living in extreme poverty in Latin America.
Techo means "roof" in English, and according to the Techo website, the objective of the ARTecho initiative is to "Engage the art community in the fight against poverty; creatively denounce the conditions millions of families are living in; [and to] raise funds to build…houses for families living in extreme poverty conditions." However, Techo not only provides transitional housing, but they create social inclusion programs with the ultimate goal of building sustainable communities.
"ARTecho arises as a cultural initiative to support Techo's pressing mission," said ARTecho Art Director, Diego Costa Peuser, "which is to bridge the social gap between opportunities and those living in extreme poverty conditions."
The ARTecho event entails a small group of renowned artists from around the world being invited to participate and each of those artists being tasked with creating a unique small-scale replica of the houses that Techo builds for impoverished Latin Americans in 19 different countries.
The 16 inch x 8 inch miniature houses are designed with diverse materials and mixed mediums, becoming works of art which are first exhibited and then auctioned off with funds going to the cause.
In 2011 the ARTecho event featured the work of 19 artists, each piece of art of which was auctioned off with the total sum coming to $227,000 – enough to build more than 120 homes.
This year's participating artists hailed from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Uruguay, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Cuba, and included artists, Adriana Salazar, Pablo Tamayo, Jesse Florez, Glexis Novoa, Rogelio Polesello, Ana Alenso, Emilia Azcarate, Edwin Monsalve, Craig Kucia, Patrick Hamilton, Josefina Guilisasti, Guillermo Kuitca, Matias Duville, Pedro Tyler, Glenda León, Suwon Lee, Ernesto Neto, and Amalia Pica.
Miniature houses created as part of ARTecho 2012 can be viewed in an online gallery along with a description of materials as well as an artist explanation of each piece at Techo.org.
Tracy López is a bilingual writer living outside the Washington DC metro area. She is the founder of Latinaish.com.