March 28, 2022
Original Source Press Release
MINNEAPOLIS, March 28, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Global humanitarian organization, Alight, announces renowned architect and designer RAEL (Ronald Rael), well known for his participation in the Teeter Totter Wall event, as the inaugural Alight Artist in Residence. Working in partnership with Alight, the two year program will allow Rael to address humanitarian crises through his work by providing creative solutions to improve dignity, functionality, beauty, wellness and safety for those experiencing displacement.
"Rael is not only familiar with, and has worked in humanitarian contexts, but he also has deep experience using earthen materials available in the Global South by employing traditional and Indigenous practices. His commitment and passion for working with the community in order to identify the most basic needs, makes him an ideal partner to highlight Alight's work through innovative art and design," said Alight Director of the Americas Annie Nolte-Henning. "Through this inaugural residency, Rael will be a conduit, enacting Alight's core values, including designing with a human-centered lens and living up to Alight's promise of doing work worthy of our shared humanity."
Rael's relationship with Alight began in 2018 with A Little Piece of Home, transforming shelters along the US/Mexico border in a direct response to the increased migrant population and deteriorating conditions while awaiting approval for asylum in the U.S. Developed with the intent to build a place that evokes feelings of joy and inspiration while migrants' await refuge, Rael joined the Alight team in Nogales, Mexico to construct traditional hornos--mud ovens--providing a sustainable tool to cook food.
After the completion of the Nogales horno, Rael's relationship with Alight continued through a consumer-facing initiative to recreate the horno for everyday use. He has also begun a new project at another shelter along the border, Jardin de las Marispoas, to establish a 3D printing system that will allow LGBTIQ asylum-seekers to earn an income through ceramics while on their migration journey. As part of his residency, Rael's focus will be to further his ongoing research and development of additive manufacturing using adobe, with the goal of creating beautiful and sustainable low cost housing. He will also serve as the principal designer for Casa Unida in Nogales, Mexico with a goal to use Border Wall steel and traditional mud brick to create a community space for migrants to practice spiritual beliefs, reflect and find silence and solitude. In addition, Rael will work with Catholic Sisters and communities as an advisor to La Fabrica Project in El Salvador, an entrepreneurial training program that works to restore hope for vulnerable youth by co-created 3D-printed projects that can be commercialized and open pathways of stable employment.
"My recent experience with Alight has been some of the most rewarding work I have done to date in my career," said Rael. "This residency will allow me to continue the vital work that we have done while exploring new ways to nurture experimentation through architecture, art and solving complex humanitarian issues. I am humbled to work alongside the committed, selfless individuals at Alight and continue to create human-worthy designs that will make an impact on the communities for which they serve."
For more information on Alight's work, please visit www.wearealight.org .
Established in 1978 by founder Neal Ball, Alight, formerly known as American Refugee Committee, provides health care, clean water, shelter, protection and economic opportunities to more than 3.5 million people in over 20 countries each year. Alight believes in the incredible creativity, potential and ingenuity of the displaced and works to shine a light on their humanity, the tremendous amount of good that's already happening and the possibilities to do more. In 2021, Alight received the prestigious 4-Star Rating from Charity Navigator for the eleventh consecutive year, celebrating over a decade of impactful work.