Heather Haynes is a painter who also works in mixed media photography. Her practice is focused on meaningful work, with a definite nod to street art while maintaining her advocacy for human rights. Haynes raises funds and is considered mama Heather to 140 orphans in the Democratic Republic of Congo. She has traveled to the DRC seven times in as many years and has been exposed to realities and stories she can’t ignore. "This changes a person and I am forever changed by what I know now to be true. My work comes from my heart. If I am painting from this space, the truth will emerge".
"This changes a person and I am forever changed by what I know now to be true"
Since the summer of 2016, Haynes has been touring the Wall of Courage, a project she spent 3 years developing that includes 80 paintings in a series. It started as a fundraiser for 16 orphans living in Goma DRC. As more funds were raised, a house was built and the number of children grew to 80. "I began painting some of these children for my next art show. Two weeks before this show, I laid out 15 paintings in a square… I stood back, looked at them together and realized I had to paint all 80."
As the project progressed the number of children grew to 140 and Haynes continues to raise more funds to educate 350 more children at the Jonathan Holiday School that is built by Michael Holiday who stumbled across the Wall of Courage in the early stages of the project, which is captured in the documentary entitled “Beyond The Wall”.
Haynes has been using spray paint in her work for about 15 years. Recently her approach with it has drastically shifted, particularly over the past year. "I am emboldened by the history, the strength and the power of graffiti. This medium is driving my passion forward in a new, raw way. This is so exciting for me and it has really shifted how I create!"
"I am emboldened by the history, the strength and the power of graffiti"
Haynes is carefully balancing her career and family life. Getting in the studio is a high priority before everything starts to take over her time. "I work well with deadlines and have the most fun and creative breakthroughs when I feel totally justified putting my art work first. It becomes the most important part of me."
Based in a small border town in the Thousand Islands, Haynes is surrounded with a stunningly beautiful setting on the St. Lawrence River. The location is on the border to NY State and placed centrally between the cities of Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto. "The local community has inspired me to push through to new levels of bravery. This town is also known for its summer live theater. Art is bountiful here."
The Wall of Courage has been invited to show in an important art show at the United Talent Agency Artists Space in Beverly Hills, CA at the end of July, 2020. This is a big opportunity for Haynes to get the Wall in front of people who can help her continue to tour it, raise funds and expand on the support in the DRC. "We already have a women’s training centre, an arts club, Pygmy Village support, a permaculture project, a bee hive honey project, two medical centres that have been built and a second school is almost finished on the nearby Island of Idjwi. So, the Wall of Courage has inspired many people to find a place within this project and I am eternally grateful for them."