Mexican art auction raises funds for aid organization

Evan Drake

Canvases coated in orange and abstract squares symbolized hope for the Mexican community Sunday at a Mexican Rural Health Benefit on the Evanston Campus.

More than 40 people attended the event at the Allen Center to raise money for health and education benefits in rural Mexico through an art show with more than 30 paintings by local Mexican artist Oscar Romero.

A silent auction for Romero’s art was sponsored by the Mexican Cultural

and Educational Institute of Chicago, and proceeds will go toward health and education benefits through the Medicina y Asistencia Social A.C., a Mexican humanitarian organization.

Sunday’s event was hosted by the Global Medical Relief Program, a student-run organization that aims to help provide world relief by sending medical supplies throughout the world. GlobeMed hoped to raise awareness about the Mexican culture, said the group’s president, Dianna English. GlobeMed was aiming to raise more than $400 for relief in Mexico.

“This is about people reaching out to people,” said English, an Education junior. “It’s important to appreciate the beauty of the people whom we are so fortunate to help.”

Romero, who lived in Mexico City for much of his life, said abstract artwork was his language for conveying the Mexican culture and “breaking walls and borders” between the United States and Mexico.

“The art puts us very close to them,” Romero said. “The art is our communication.”

Ankit Mahadevia, McCormick ’01, said the benefit was not about rich people buying paintings. Mahadevia traveled to Mexico with Northwestern’s Public Health in Mexico program and presented the idea of an art auction to raise funds for the Mexican humanitarian organization “to paint a picture” of who is receiving this help.

“Nearly half the people live with dirt floors,” Mahadevia said.

The funds will pay for supplies, education and health benefits, said Alvaro Alonso, a doctor at the organization’s clinic in Guerrero, Mexico. In the area where he works, there are only 36 hospital beds for 500,000 people, he said.

“I’m so excited that young people are raising funds for this,” Alonso said. “Young people at universities can do a lot of things.”

GlobeMed Executive Director Cheryl Middaugh, a Weinberg junior, said this

year NU’s GlobeMed branch sent supplies and equipment to 13 countries, including Iraq and Ghana. The groups soon will send a 2,000-pound supply of food and equipment to Zambia.

“This (event) is integral to our mission of attacking the world health crisis,” she said.

The Chicago community has shown strong support for the organization’s efforts to help Mexico, said Lia Gracey, who helped head the benefit for GlobeMed.

“We’re doing what we can to raise awareness,” said Gracey, a Weinberg

junior. “It’s been great to interact with the Mexican community.”

Zack Zavodni, a Weinberg junior, said he attended the benefit because he will be

heading to Mexico this summer to work at a clinic. He wanted to talk to several of the doctors at the benefit to get a better feel for the health conditions and poverty in Mexico.

Zavodni said he expects his experience in Mexico to be somewhat overwhelming but added that attending the benefit better prepared him for the experience.

“I’m expecting the unexpected,” he said.