The Antipodes Collective, a Seattle-based nonprofit, will be holding their first fundraiser and silent auction on Saturday, August 19 at ArtXchange Gallery in Pioneer Square. The event aims to raise money for the nonprofit to contribute to literacy education in Cambodia by creating high-quality, culturally-relevant learning materials and distributing their bilingual children’s books to underprivileged students around the country.
The event will start off with a talk by founder Lauren Iida at 5:00 p.m., and will include a silent auction featuring items from the greater Seattle area’s small businesses, including Kobo at Higo, Maneki Restaurant, Bizzaro Italian Cafe, and Cafe Turko. The event also features affordable work by local artists including Etsuko Ichikawa, Martin Oliver, and June Sekiguchi. Wine and small bites featuring Cambodian cuisine will also be offered throughout the free event.
Iida’s first visit to Cambodia in 2008 led to years of her working as a social entrepreneur and volunteer. During her time there, she saw the challenges of English language learners, particularly children. Due to the decimation of literary, visual and performing arts by Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s, there are very few Khmer-focused children’s books currently available. As Iida learned more about the needs of Cambodian English language learners and the readily-available learning materials on the market in Cambodia, she realized how she could help remedy the problem through art.
After spending extended periods of time in Cambodia and noticing a huge need for culturally-relevant learning materials, Iida decided to create The Antipodes Collective just before graduating from Cornish College of the Arts in 2014. She recruited author Carolyn R. Hall and a group of fellow Cornish art students to illustrate In My Village. The book highlights common objects and daily occurrences that are pertinent to the rural life experiences of Cambodian children, such as working on subsistence rice farms and visiting local outdoor markets. In My Village is bilingual and includes Khmer script and English on the same page so it can easily be used as a learning tool for students learning English, and engage Cambodian children in a fun and approachable manner. Over the years many copies of In My Village have been donated to rural school and grassroots education projects around Cambodia.
Two upcoming publications—Colors of Cambodia, illustrated by Danish author and illustrator Pil Ana Tesdorpf, and a culturally relevant letter of the alphabet book by Montreal-based illustrator Emanuelle Dufour—will be self-published later this year. Both contributors have spent time in Cambodia and also realized the need for Khmer focused options for Cambodian youth. Having these two illustrators contribute their talents and time to the cause helps The Antipodes Collective live up to its name. Antipodes, which means “parts of the earth diametrically opposite,” fits with their goal of connecting artists and authors from around the world who generously lend their creative skill for the nonprofit’s mission. Both publications will be distributed throughout Cambodia for free to underserved schools and learning centers with the funds raised at the upcoming fundraiser and silent auction.
The Antipodes Collective fundraiser and silent auction will be held on Saturday, August 19, from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at ArtXchange Gallery (512 1st Avenue S) in Pioneer Square. The event is free and open to the public. To learn more about The Antipodes Collective, visit www.theantipodescollective.org.