This series was inspired in part by the lyrics of the 1994 song “Donde Jugaran Los Ninos?” (“Where Will the Children Play?”) by Mana, it is a song that touches on the degradation of the environment, the loss of innocence suffered by the poor and abused children of the world, and in part from the events following the tragic 9.3 tsunami that devastated many parts of Indonesia in 2004.
Many stories were written and reported on the neglect and hardships that many of the survivors faced in the aftermath of the tsunami. It was horrifying to hear that children were being especially targeted by child slave rings that sought out children that had been lost or had become orphans in the tragedy. These people would target vulnerable children to abduct them to later sell them as child slave labor or worse into sexual prostitution. When these stories reached the public there was a sense of concern and outrage that motivated many people to get involved. A great amount of people volunteered their time and or donated money to help the victims, it was inspiring to see the types of accomplishments people can achieve when they work together.
As the weeks turned to months people began to forget about the survivors and their remaining plight, it became business as usual and soon Indonesia and its sufferers slipped back to the recess of the collective consciousness.
I was disturbed by the quick amnesia that seemed to overcome the rest of the world, and while listening to the “Donde Jugaran los Ninos?”song by Mana I was struck with an epiphany. What to do about this issue that still affected many of the children of the devastated areas? How could I play a part in helping raise this issue again? Then I realized that “this issue” was not just about the challenges the children of Indonesia were facing but it was about the challenges that children all over the world face. Tragedy after tragedy from earthquakes to hurricanes children are typically the most vulnerable and affected. Disturbingly on the outset of a massive catastrophe people are quick to help (if there is enough media coverage) but as time goes by so does the memory and once the public seizes to care about any given tragedy children quickly become forgotten and they fall in peril of becoming just another statistic. It was this realization that fueled this project.
I created this series with the intent to keep the issues of child abuse, neglect, and exploitation alive in the social conscience. As adults in this society we need to address these issues, children depend on us to keep them safe and whether we want to acknowledge it or not children are facing a harsh present and an uncertain future. For those who believe this is not of their concern because of they live in a rich developed country, think again! This problem affects children from all walks of life and is indifferent to race, class or gender. It affects the rich and the poor, while poor kids deal with economic hardships wealthy kids deal with dysfunctional families and “disorders” that are dealt with doctors and drugs rather than love, affection and understanding.
In this series the children's kites, body language, and facial expressions act as a metaphor of their struggle. I have decided to abstract the facial features in order to make it more of a universal statement, there is no sign that attributes any ethnic or racial identity to these kids. The choices of materials and colors is done to accentuate the feeling of the message. I try to awaken the viewers emotions to this dilemma through the use of composition, color, and form. These sculptures and animations represent all those that are suffering or have suffered, for we all were children once.
My idea is to donate half of the proceeds from this series to non profit children's organizations that are promoting social awareness and child welfare. So far I have yet to sell any pieces due my connection to them and the need to have them together until I have enough for a conclusive exhibition. I have exhibited them often though, this allows the message to be communicated and lets people experience them as well.
This series reached a milestone when I was selected by the city of Arcata to design and build a sculpture that was to be installed permanently in the down town area. I donated my time and skill to the project, the city paid for the materials and the people of Arcata got a very special Donde Jugaran Los Ninos sculpture which is the biggest and most complex sculpture in the series to date. The sculpture is now on permanent display in the H.S.U. Sculpture garden on the corner of 9th and H in the city of Arcata.
It is up to us to help the future of our kind. Please help us by keeping this in mind, and if you are inclined to do so help a children's organization of your choice or create your own art to help spread the awareness.
For more on this series please visit www.VicoDesigns.com and check out the current works page.