Ross Bleckner, according to the New York Times, has been named a UN Goodwill Ambassador based on his work using art as form of therapy for Ugandan victims of human trafficking:
Using thousands of dollars’ worth of paint, brushes and paper shipped from New York Central Art Supply in the East Village, Mr. Bleckner, 59, worked with a group of 25 children — former abductees and ex-soldiers — for more than a week at a Roman Catholic aid center. The children made 200 paintings that will be sold at a benefit at the United Nations headquarters next month at which Mr. Bleckner will be appointed goodwill ambassador. Several of the luminous paintings are now on view in the front window of the clothing store Moschino in the meatpacking district, whose company is providing money to support the Gulu project.
“One of the things we realized about a fine artist, a painter, in this role is that the work that emerges from it really needs no translation, no dubbing like a documentary or music — it’s immediately accessible to anyone who sees it,” said Ms. Monasebian, whose office estimates that human trafficking generates $32 billion a year in profits, third only to drug and arms trafficking.
Mr. Bleckner said that when United Nations officials first approached him, they asked him whether he thought art could perform a useful role in drawing attention to the plague of human trafficking, which they said still receives too little attention, despite the widespread use of children in many conflicts in Africa.
“And I said to them that if art can’t perform a role like that, then it has no role at all,” he said on Tuesday.
For Soldiers, a Chance to Wield Brushes, Not Arms (New York Times)