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On Deborah Doering's intercontinental art collaboration

I attended quite a special event on Thursday night, in a striking venue. Artist Deborah Doering (pictured above, right) held a fundraising party/installation on the 84th floor of the Sears Tower, the monolithic quarter-mile high skyscraper that dominates the skyline of downtown Chicago. The event was to publicise and benefit a collaboration that she is initiating with a group of women artists in South Africa. These South African women, many of whose families are affected by AIDS, made these large tapestries which in the past few years have been purchased and exhibited all over the world.

The Keiskamma Altarpiece, a tapestry based on the Isenheim altarpiece

This group of women from the Keiskamma Valley have agreed to collaborate with Deborah by turning sketches and paintings created by Deborah into tapestries. The aim is eventually to install the finished tapestries in 100 public institutions across the globe.

It's an amibitious project, but Deborah is already being helped by a patron of hers, Dr. Grace Carreon MD, who arranged to host Thursday night's event in the beautiful office space of Dr. Bhavesh Patel, MD. Throughout the space, which has marble floors, wood panelled walls, and inner rooms created from boxes of glass, Deborah and her husband Glenn had installed dozens of small paintings and drawings, arranged in rows on the glass walls or placed across the boardroom table. About six giant LCD screens were simultaneously playing a video showing the work of the Kieskamma Valley artists. Guests could walk through the huge office space, look out of the window at the vertiginous view of the city, spend time looking at the art on the walls or the desks, watch the video displays for a while, and then partake of food and wine in the lavishly furnished kitchen area.

And in the cube-room at the centre of the office, guests could create small paintings themselves using the stencil-stipple-paint method that Deborah often uses to create her work. The following slideshow gives you some idea of the evening's events:

The first phase of the project is to try and raise $5,000 to cover part of the costs of visiting South Africa. The plan is for Dr. Carreon to accompany Deborah, so the trip will be part art project and part humanitarian project. The project has the provisional title 'Facebook Too', and I wish Deborah and all involved with it the very best of luck. For more information, visit Deborah's website at
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