Local artist using work to help drought sufferers in Africa
After more than 50 years with a passion for photography, Michael McPeak wants to use his art to help people in need.
With the opening reception on Saturday at the East Lansing Public Library’s North Foyer Art Gallery, 950 Abbot Road, McPeak, a DeWitt, Mich., resident and vice president at McPeak Media, will look to raise money to benefit Save the Children for Horn of Africa drought relief. For those who make a donation to the charity, McPeak will provide a fine art portrait sitting and digital copy of one or more images as a part of his Faces of Caring project.
“It’s a passion of mine I really enjoy, particularly photographing people,” McPeak said. “Getting the opportunity to photograph people — which I find as an enjoyable thing to do — and encouraging them to make a donation and help those who so desperately need it is kind of a win-win situation.”
With the drought in the Horn of Africa — a region which features the countries of Eritrea, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Somalia — much of the area is without food and clean water. Severe malnutrition has led hundreds of thousands of people to the verge of death and impacted more than 12 million total in the region, forcing many to flee to refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya in search of food and resources.
McPeak — who previously has raised more than $1,300 for the Red Cross tsunami relief fund for Japan — said his increased advertising efforts for this fundraiser sets the money goal at more than $5,000.
Lane Hartill, director of emergency media and communications for Save the Children, said the organization primarily focuses on helping children in a development context and in emergencies in more than 120 countries around the world. Hartill said the drought is one of the worst in more than 60 years, and people, such as McPeak, are essential in raising money and awareness for the cause.
“It shows the guy has a good heart and his heart is in the right spot,” Hartill said. “He understands what the need is, and that’s great because the need is incredible there. In what he’s doing, not only will the money go to support us, but it also raises awareness of the drought in the Horn of Africa.”
McPeak is one of 11 artists — not including the elementary school art exhibit in December — to have his work featured in the North Foyer Art Gallery during 2011.
Pat Rist, the exhibit director for the Friends of the East Lansing Public Library, said much of McPeak’s work features people, subjects and places gicléed — a term associated with prints that use fade-resistant, archival inks — onto silk to give it a brighter look. Although McPeak’s fundraising efforts are entirely independent of the gallery, Rist said it’s a good opportunity for people who want a professional photograph of themselves while simultaneously helping a good cause.
“It’s a very nice gesture on his part,” Rist said. “It would certainly be a fun thing to have if someone wanted to have a portrait of themselves on silk or just a photograph.”
For McPeak, the fundraiser is as much about his art as it is about the opportunity to give back by raising money for a worthy cause.
“Life has been so good to me that I have to turn around and do things for other people,” McPeak said. “It wouldn’t be fair for me to not make use of my talent to help other people who need it.”
To donate to the cause, contact McPeak Media at (517) 669-2567.