The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation this month unveiled a grand art project dedicated to the history of vaccines. The Art of Saving a Life is a virtual gallery of images, films, music, stories, GIFs, and other compelling content. Artists from all over the world were commissioned to tell the story of vaccines and their miraculous power to save lives.
The Foundation hopes to bring attention to the subject, educate the public and build further support for the charities that dispense vaccines in countries with the greatest need: United Nations Foundation, The World Health Organization, UNICEF, CDC, Gavi, Rotary, Save the Children, The Global Poverty Project.
(Image © Sophie Blackall)
The works of art are really worth admiring, exploring, reading and raving about. Browsing page after page, one sees that talent and engagement on the part of artists have produced an exhaustive and visually fascinating account of what vaccines have done for the human race, what they could have done if they were used, and what they could do in the future to stop epidemics like Ebola.
Some of the stories are daunting, but beautiful and humbling in their truth. Some artists tell a personal story, others use imagination and historical facts to render what is magnificent – namely the determination of the human spirit to help those in need. (Image: © Deborah Kelly)
The Art of Saving a Life is a gorgeous homage to vaccines and their creators and to the force of art in increasing our awareness and expanding human consciousness. Here are some of my favorite art works:
Luc Jacquet / The Race for Life / La Course A La Vie — © 2014 Wild-Touch
“Academy Award winning French filmmaker Luc Jacquet directed The Race for Life (La Course A La Vie in French), an arresting short film that underscores the value of vaccines for children’s health and strength. Here, we see children racing through difficult terrain. As they run, they encounter various obstacles – insect bites, dangerous cuts, and harsh weather to name a few—but are able to persevere as they have been vaccinated. Luc worked with young actors on this film, set mainly in the spectacular Parc Naturel Régional du Vercors and on the Dunes de l’Espiguette in France.”
Lang Lang / Afternoon of a Faun — © 2014 Lang Lang Productions
“Chinese pianist Lang Lang conjures the tragedy of how the career of one of the world’s greatest dancers suddenly ended. In the mid-20th century, Tanaquil “Tanny” LeClercq was a principal dancer at the New York City ballet, a muse to her husband Balanchine and to choreographer Jerome Robbins. Prior to departing for a European tour in the autumn of 1956, each member of her ballet company received the polio vaccine as a precaution. Tanny decided against it. One month later she contracted polio in Copenhagen and collapsed. Paralyzed, she would never walk or dance again. She was 27 years old. Here, Lang Lang performs Debussy’s Afternoon of a Faun, the famous pas de deux Tanny danced with Jacque D’Ambroise, as a film of their dance flickers behind him on stage.”
GMB Akash / Crossing the Waterways in Bangladesh — © 2014 GMB Akash
“GMB Akash shows how health workers go the distance to try and reach every Bangladeshi child. By boat on remote waterways and by foot through sandy pathways, Akash follows health workers as they bring vaccines to some of the most remote areas of Bangladesh. Akash spent many days in the field, lovingly capturing almost every aspect of the country’s successful vaccination program. In his photos, young mothers cross flood zones with their babies in their arms to reach the health clinic; an elderly man transports vaccines to a remote island by boat; and pregnant women receive antenatal care, including tetanus vaccine. He also captures young children ill in hospital with pneumonia, for which Bangladesh will soon introduce a vaccine.”
Angélique Kidjo sings a Kenyan song with the Women of Merti:
Rakeysh Mehra / The girl who kicked the ball
Yuna / It’s a new day