© 2012 gabriel craig
Philanthropy Failed: The Altruist Series is a social critique of the inherent difficulty one encounters when trying make a difference. Through my practice as a jeweler I set out to create a project where I could use jewelry as a vehicle to make philanthropic contributions. By using non-profit logos on signet jewelry I was able to conflate moral behavior with personal identity. The resultant objects were to be sold with 50% of the sale price going to the charity featured on the object.
Later when I approached the non-profits to endorse the project none of them were interested in participating. In an unexpected turn, my project – which was intended to be a new model for socially conscious art making – instead became a document of the proprietary system that governs even the non-profit sector.
The Philanthropy Failed installation consisted of jewelry objects displayed with the running text of rejection letters from the corresponding organization, a short documentary video about the role of the moral imperative in craft collecting, and an audio piece of the artist narrating the conglomerated rejection letter text.
In Philanthropy Failed: The Altruist Series jewelry ultimately becomes a transparent window through which the viewer can see the disconnect between our society’s aptitude to create social change and the impracticality of the mechanisms to implement it.