Most days, Elkhart’s Larry Crump acts as the middle man between doctor and patient, a pharmacist by profession.
Crump’s recent labor places him between artist and audience.
Funded partially by a Vibrant Communities $1,000 Little BIG Idea grant, “No More Kids in Cages” is the newest show at Goshen’s Art House, conceptualized by venue board member Crump.
Roughly 75 watercolor paintings from Virginia-based artist Juuust Amanda will be exhibited, aimed at raising awareness of the immigrant’s plight by joining imagery with publicly available quotes from immigrants, advocates and others.
The show will open from 6-9 p.m. Saturday at the venue, 211 S. Main St., second floor, and run through March 31.
A co-worker of Crump’s wife Sheri (she mostly works remotely), Amanda was featured at Goshen’s Painted Finch Gallery in November 2019, part of the First Fridays Goshen Arts Tour.
Her pieces were inspired by a call to action from Warren Binford of Project Amplify, “a national campaign launched to establish legal protections for children in government care so that the brutality discovered on the border in June never happens again,” its mission statement reads.
Amanda recalled hearing Binford’s appearance of the “Pod Save America” podcast last year.
“I realized I had heard the same story last year, last summer,” she said. “I had just assumed since we stopped talking about it, surely we don’t have kids in concentration camps anymore, right?
“I found out we do.”
Binford’s urging was based in creativity.
“‘Create art. Do drama. Paint. Draw. Dance,’” Amanda recalled Binford saying. “‘There needs to be art surrounding these words for people to pay attention.’”
Amanda’s 25 paintings garnered attendees’ attention and a positive reception, Crump said.
“With the Art House quarterly featured artist, I thought this would be an opportunity to showcase (her work) some more,” he said. “And then I started learning more about Project Amplify, about the problem at the border. I knew it was an issue but I hadn’t really done much research on my own. So I really started getting engrossed in the whole process, the whole cause. I talked with Amanda and she was all for it.”
For 178 days, Amanda has applied her talent, painting a new piece each day.
Crump exhausted the grant money “in a heartbeat” as he personally constructed each of the pine frames.
Four hours of cutting wood. Eight to 10 hours for assembling the frames. Another six spent on installing hardware and inserting the art.
There were two days of vacation time burned and more than 70 separate hours dedicated to Crump’s first preparation of a show.
“I just couldn’t stop,” he said.
He estimates an additional $1,500 of his own cash has been directed toward other materials — including three 200-pound rolls of chain-link fencing. Crump credits Art House board members Steve Freeto, Adrienne Nesbitt, Amanda Wagner and friend Mark Linn of Goshen with assistance in preparation.
“When I find something that moves me, I really have a hard time turning that. Seeing her paintings and reading those quotes brought a real personal touch to this problem at the border,” Crump said. “Anyone can watch the news and hear how bad it is, whatever your interpretation is. But to actually read the quotes, you start to feel like you know these kids. There are quotes from adults as well and from lawyers helping out. You feel a part of it.”
Offering guidance and resources, representatives from the National Immigrant Justice Center and Goshen’s Center for Healing & Hope will present to attendees. Amanda will also address visitors, and Peruvian-born multi-instrumentalist Nayo Ulloa of Goshen will perform.
Crump noted how he’s hoping to reach two audiences — those who can contribute through the raising of awareness and funds and those personally experiencing the issue’s effects.
“With those organizations here, the other population I want to reach, who I have no experience at all with, is the immigrant population here that maybe doesn’t know about the services available. There are some really great things out there that I want them to know about.
“… “I really want this to be the start of a new dialog here.”