Bill Gates Commissions Artists to Promote Foundation's Agenda

  • January 08, 2015 20:40

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The birth of vaccines: Photographer Alexia Sinclair portrays Dr. Edward Jenner giving John Phipps the world's first vaccine, for smallpox, in 1796.
Courtesy of Alexia Sinclair via NPR

Bill Gates has used his Microsoft billions to influence issues as wide-ranging as education in the U.S. to clean water delivery for the world's poorest regions, making his point this week by drinking processed "poop water." Now he's enlisted artists to promote vaccinations, reports NPR.

About one in 5 children worldwide is not vaccinated. Six million people die each year of diseases that are preventable with vaccines.

"In science and medicine, we're convinced that what we work on is really cool, really important, and should interest everyone," says Orin Levine, director of the Vaccine Delivery Team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "But we haven't always provoked that interest. Art really speaks to everybody as a way to provoke a conversation, or convey a message."

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation sponsored the project and the artwork is not currently for sale. Pieces will go on view at a conference in Berlin on Jan. 27, as part of a campaign to raise money for Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, an organization aimed at vaccinating millions of children in poor countries.

American photographer Annie Leibovitz, artist Vik Muniz, illustrator Sophie Blackall, British cartoonist Darryl Cunningham, writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie from Nigeria and Russian illustrator Evgeny Parfenov, are among those who have contributed work.

"The artist's creative process often sheds new light on a topic," says the Gates Foundation's Levine. "We hope the art is going to stimulate conversations both in communities that are used to talking about health issues and among people coming to it for the first time."

Read more at NPR

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