By Rachel Hawkins NDG Staff Writer
Recently to end off Dallas Arts Month with a bang, artists, sponsors, and creators of all types gathered at the Fashion Industry Gallery to celebrate the second annual Arts N’ Beats on April 28.
This charitable event highlighted The Pursuit of Hope. This is a social movement for those that have impairments. This is a feature-length documentary that tells the story of the Haitian Amputee Football Team as they pursue the World Cup of Amputee Soccer. The goal is to not only encourage those with impairments to break through physical and social barriers but to raise awareness so that one day the sport can be adopted by FIFA and the Paralympics.
“This is really just a creative space for those across DFW that are involved in art, fashion, film, cinematography,” Sean R. Dougherty, business strategist of Giving Excellence Movement said. “The real mission behind this event is to support the Pursuit of Hope. We’re giving opportunities to those in Haiti so they can get their lives and jobs back. They are seen as outcasts within their own community, but this is giving them an outlet to become part of a soccer team.”
Nearly 1 million people in Haiti are amputees or have disabilities. Since many of their families consider them cursed, they are forced to deal with poverty, lack of jobs, and sometimes even homelessness. The Pursuit of Hope tells the story of team members as they seek to find acceptance in their own country and desire to become models of hope for Haiti and the rest of the world.
One of the featured artists highlighted at the event was Leroy Roper Jr., a journalist, artist, and writer. He has been an artist since he was five years old. He was an award-winning professional journalist before he finishes high school. This event also marked the 30 year anniversary of the first article written about him in New York.
“My works are internationally known as Portraits of the Soul,” Roper Jr. said. “I paint canvas nine by ten feet to 20 by 30 feet. My works are called Portraits of the Soul because I talk with the people who come into work with me about what’s happening with their lives. Then I interpret their reality into my world of fantasy.
“For example, if someone’s going through major changes in their lives I’m going to paint them as a symbol of change. I may put them on fairy wing or give them giant butterfly wings because when you come out of the cocoon of the past, you are than able to fly upon your own wings. For me, one-half of those wings represents the worst experiences you’ve had in your life, and the other half represents everything else.”
Amputee artists, models, and creators also performed live at the event. Among these artists was a guy named Desmond Blair. He performed live art by painting in front of a crowd. Due to his tenacity, determination, and staying focused; he went from crayons to paint brushes and from drawing stick figures to portraits while graduating from high school at the age of 16 years old. “Born with what some may call a disability I use my art to inspire and demonstrate that impossible. I’m possible,” Blair said.
Another artist that was featured at the event was a writer called Nick F. Hawkins.
“I’m known as Nick the Writer, and I wrote the book ‘Woke Up on The Wrong Side of The Universe’,” Hawkins said. “When you look at my poetry you’ll see that there are two poems in one. Every poem I write out in rhyme format, and then I have a cryptic sub poem in every one of them in light purple that describes in a shorter phrase of what that poem meant.”
The event also featured a fashion show where models and amputee models walked that stage to show off the latest designs.