Plight of Burmese refugees inspires artist


By Tyra Sutak For the Camera
Posted: 12/29/2012 01:00:00 AM MST


Carmen Melton s “Reflexion” will be among the works on display during the “Our Neighbors, Ourselves” multimedia exhibit in Denver. (Courtesy photo)
If you go

What: “Our Neighbors, Ourselves” multimedia art exhibit

Where: CORE New Art Space, 900 Santa Fe Drive, Denver

When: Friday, Jan. 4, through Sunday, Jan. 20; gallery hours: noon-6 p.m. Thursday and Saturday, noon-9 p.m. Friday, 1-4 p.m. Sunday

Info: 303-297-8428,,

Etc.: To learn more about Project Worthmore, visit

A fortuitous meeting with one family in her community compelled Carmen Melton, a Denver-based artist, to take a closer look at the people and individuals around her.

And what she discovered inspired her to organize “Our Neighbors, Ourselves,” a multimedia art exhibit. The exhibit, benefiting local nonprofit Project Worthmore, runs Friday through Jan. 20 at CORE New Art Space in Denver’s Art on Santa Fe District.

Melton was first introduced to Project Worthmore when she met the founders, Frank and Carolyn Anello, at her daughter’s school. Project Worthmore is dedicated to providing support for the more than 2,000 refugees from war-torn Burma now living in the Denver area, and the Anellos’ work inspired Melton to offer support of her own.

“I’ve always tried to find a way to do something with my work that was more far-reaching — a special impact kind of thing,” Melton said. “It struck me that this was this thing that I wanted to do.”

After meeting several Burmese refugees and families, Melton decided to transform her upcoming art exhibit at the CORE New Art Space to show images and portraits of the Burmese people that have become her friends and neighbors. Through her many nationwide connections in the art community, Melton was able to encourage more than 50 artists to donate work, all of it interpretations of images of the Burmese people. The art is based mostly on photography featured on the Project Worthmore website done by Steve Gumaer, co-founder of Partners Relief and Development, a registered charity also focused on assisting the people impacted by the war in Burma.

Melton said the artwork donated for the upcoming show has been inspiring and is some of the best work she’s seen from artists who typically create custom artwork based on commissions.

“When you’re doing something that you know is going to be donated to a cause, you’re not worried about making it perfect,” Melton said. “People are freer to do their best work when they don’t have something imposing on them.”

All proceeds from “Our Neighbors, Ourselves” will be donated to Project Worthmore.

The exhibit will kick off during the Art District on Santa Fe’s First Friday Art Walk, 6-9 p.m., with light appetizers and drinks available.

Melton hopes that “Our Neighbors, Ourselves” will inspire others to take a closer look into their own communities.

“People don’t have to travel thousands of miles or pay thousands of dollars to do humanitarian work,” she said, “it’s right here in our own backyard. We just need to open our minds and our hearts to what’s going on around us.”