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Inspired by Dedication to Art, Kim ’15 Co-Founds Haiti Arts Relief Project

In the wake of the devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010, a man named Desulme continue his master craft; painting with a piece of cloth for a canvas and twigs for a brush in the streets of Port au Prince . Intrigued by Desulme’s work, Won Woo Kim ’15 stumbled through the rubble strewn about the sidewalks to ask, “How long does it take you to paint one of your paintings?” “One year,” Desulme said. Kim would later discover that Desulme’s answer was a result of the lack of art supplies he could afford. Inspired by artists like Desulme’s dedication to their craft in light of the disaster, Kim would go on to co-found the Haiti Arts Relief Project (HARP), a non-profit social enterprise that aims to support amatuer Haitian artists and promote the growth of art in Haiti. “[Even though] we were surrounded by damaged buildings, ashes and UN troops cleaning stuff out of the streets, there were still those paintings that hung on the sidewalks… that’s what got to me,” said Kim. As part of his effort to help Haitian arts, Kim purchases paintings from amateur artists and brings them back to the United States and Korea to be sold in art exhibitions. With the help of partners Kent McLaughlin ’15, Austin Robichaud ’15 and Jack Harrington ’15, all proceeds are reinvested into other projects in the island nation. One of such projects is the HARP Art School, a boarding school founded in 2012 dedicated to the development of the artistic talent of its 60 teenage students. “The HARP Art School’s purpose was to engender a future generation of Haitian amateur artists who aspire to become famous worldwide through the publicity that HARP will offer, and will also contribute their artworks to HARP Art Exhibition,” said Kim. According to Kim, HARP has recently finished the construction of dormitories on the school’s campus. Starting this fall, students will board with instructors at the school to facilitate a better learning environment. “We want to liven the artistic heritage of Haiti by motivating young, aspiring artists and providing them with the proper art education,” he continued. In addition to the HARP Art School, Kim’s organization sponsors orphans in Haiti and raises money for the construction of showers in ten villages throughout Haiti. HARP is currently organizing an art exhibition in Maine. With the funds generated from this event, Kim hopes to follow through with HARP’s next big venture: to merge the HARP Art School with Haiti’s National Sports Academy. After meeting with Jean Max Saint-Albin, the Director General of the Ministry of Sports and Civic Action, over the summer, it was agreed that the HARP Art School’s cultural instructions and teachings would help to truly educate a portion of Haiti’s youth. “The Minister had never encountered an art school in Haiti before, and so, by merging HARP Art School with the National Sports Academy, he wants to create a balanced curriculum, so the students can get a [complete] upbringing—a luxury in Haiti,” said Kim. HARP has won multiple awards for its efforts, including the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award from the Department of History and Social Science at Phillips Academy, and The President’s Volunteer Service Award, gold level. HARP has also brought several speakers to the Andover campus, including Dr. Anthony Bogues of Brown University.