How To Draw A Lion

← Back to the Portfolio

On View from October 17 through October 23, 2014 at Gallery 151. 132 West 18th Street, New York, NY 10011.

Gallery 151 is pleased to announce an exhibition of paintings and drawings done by kids living at the Rift Valley Children’s Village in northern Tanzania.  Founded by India Howell in 2004, the Village is a permanent home to over a hundred orphaned or at-risk children.  In the Summer of 2014 New York based artist John Platt spent 6 weeks at the village as a volunteer art teacher, working with children from the ages of 3 to 18.  The pieces presented in this show are their work; ranging in subject-matter from the animals of the Serengeti to abstractions the likes of Jackson Pollock and Cy Twombly. Each piece bears the unmistakable mark of the personality behind it, bringing with it the joy, surprise, and warmth of these extraordinary kids. All proceeds from the show will go to the Tanzanian Children’s Fund.

Nestled among the rolling coffee plantations in the Karatu region of northern Tanzania, the Rift Valley Children’s Village (RVCV) is an oasis of laughter and joy.  The staff works with local village leaders to identify the children in the surrounding community most in need of the safe haven RVCV can provide.  These children often suffer from malnutrition, weakened immune systems and emotional scars when they arrive, but almost immediately the healing process begins.  Organized around a family model, the children live together in houses of twelve, with three Tanzanian “house mothers”, one student teacher, and two international volunteers.

John Platt arrived at the village on June 5th 2014, the first day of the kids’ summer vacation from their usual classes at Gyetighi Primary School.  This timing allowed for up to three art classes a day, often with different age groups, and a staggering output of work. According to Platt, “The kids were enormously welcoming, playful and loving.  Stealing the show was Dickson, age 7, who grabbed a 60-pound bag full of art supplies and insisted on carrying it all by himself to our house.  When we got there more than 10 kids greeted me – their new volunteer – and proceeded to tear through my luggage asking excitedly ‘what is it?!?!’ for each new item they grabbed. Apparently the word got out that I was doing art while there because most of them came up to me asking ‘Are you John?  Can we paint?’ ”

John Platt was born in 1984 and raised in New York City.  He studied art at The School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston before settling in Brooklyn where he lives and works.  He has been showing at Gallery 151 since 2009.  The dream of Africa has been a long time coming for this artist, and the Rift Valley Children’s Village was the perfect opportunity to bring art to those in need.

All proceeds from the sale of these works will be donated to the Tanzanian Children’s Fund.

Please contact with inquiries.

  • Filed under: PAST EXHIBITIONS