Digital artist, Michelle Benjamin from Merebank is donating the proceeds from the sale of her Nelson Mandela art pieces to help children with cancer who have been hospitalized at the Childhood Cancer Foundation South Africa.
Choc services include emotional support for children with cancer and their families, as well as accommodation and transport for families whose children are in hospital, and awareness and education campaigns on childhood cancer.
The artist managed to raise R190 000 from the sale of a single artwork and two art collections featuring Mandela. Her art was sold to a buyer in Italy. Benjamin noted that R170 000 would go to Choc (Childhood Cancer Foundation SA), while R20 000 would go to the Diaz Museum in Mossel Bay.
The humanitarian who grew up in Phoenix but now lives in George in the Southern Cape uses the proceeds to uplift the lives of others, as well as for wildlife projects, particularly saving rhinos from extinction. She has exhibited around the world, including London and New York and is well known for her digital art.
Benjamin said she was in New York just before the city was locked down when her curator held a surprise exhibition for her. “I thought I was going to a small social gathering and when I got there, my curator had arranged this big exhibition of my work. During the pandemic, my work was shown on the Big Screen Plaza and my curator also got creative and my whole collection was exhibited in shop fronts on 5th and 6th Avenue,” she said.
“I’m currently working on a project for the families of health-care workers who died during Covid-19. I have been asked to do portraits of the workers as a gift for the families. So, my work has continued, I’m not stopping. The mission statement for my foundation is ‘compassion and kindness to heal the world’. We don’t ask for donations, I sell my art to help others,” said Benjamin.
The Big Screen Plaza is a 9m digital billboard in New York overlooking the public plaza and includes the likes of John Legend and Trevor Noah. During the lockdown, The activist also started the “People of Purpose Zoom Talkshow” which includes influential speakers from around the globe.