Marriam Mossalli, [email protected]
Publication Date: 
Wed, 2011-04-20 04:04

Fortunately, Louis Vuitton is about to change that by going beyond its legacy in fashion to a leave a much more important one: A legacy of philanthropy.
Louis Vuitton has always maintained that the dissemination of knowledge, craftsmanship and passion of creation are all founding cornerstones of the LV brand. Utilizing the reopening of its store in the Mall of the Emirates, Dubai, Louis Vuitton pays tribute to future generations through its Corporate Social Responsibility contribution with START, a locally based initiative.
“Our new store in Mall of the Emirates is the perfect platform to showcase Louis Vuitton's close relation with the arts and artists in the region, as well as our commitment to giving back to the community,” says Damien Vernet, General Manager of Louis Vuitton Middle East & India.
Founded in Paris in 1854, Louis Vuitton has become synonymous with the art of luxury travel. Its iconic trunks and luggage have not only accompanied travels through distances, but also throughout time. Therefore, it was no surprise that Lebanese artist Nadim Karam appropriately labeled the collaborative piece “The Traveling Elephant,” which was created with the cooperation of 12 international children based in Dubai.
The elephant has a very strong meaning in Karam’s work. This theme was approached alongside Mother Elephant and Father Elephant at the first Ayyam exhibition in Beirut. Born in Senegal in 1957, Karam is a multidisciplinary artist known for groundbreaking urban design and cutting-edge painting and sculpture. A prominent figure in the Lebanese art scene, Karam has exhibited in galleries, institutions and art fairs worldwide, contributing to such notable events as the Liverpool Biennial, the Venice Biennale, the Gwangju Biennale in South Korea and SCOPE Art Fair (Basel).
Karam’s latest endeavor has been the altruistic participation in this special project, dedicated to the youth through the organization of a creative art workshop in which children from diverse backgrounds and nationalities collaboratively created the art. “The Traveling Elephant” is made up of 12 individual canvasses worked on by each young aspiring artist only to come together to form one final, poignant piece.
While their nationalities may be wide and varied, the children and Karam have one very strong bond in common: They all speak the language of dreams and imagination. Collaborating on this charity project with Karam, Louis Vuitton connected with a master of imagination who by his own admission, “works on creating dreams for cities by transcending boundaries.”
“The Traveling Elephant” is playful, imaginative and abstract in its youthfulness. Karam’s explanation of the piece as “absurd” with a borderless message demonstrates that there couldn’t have been a more perfect match for the children’s art project that is rooted in a city that thrives on the diversity and cultural fusion of its residents and mirrors the international spirit of Louis Vuitton.
“The collaboration with Louis Vuitton was very interesting for me,” described Karam. “When I knew that it will be a workshop with the children around it, I was thinking of how we can involve all the kids and get them to work in the way that they forget about the first instant of thinking and go beyond that to another stage, which is creativity and imagination.”  The final art piece will be donated to START for their regional charity initiatives with adolescent youth. START is a non-profit organization established by Art Dubai and the Al Madad Foundation offering art education for refugee and orphaned children, along with operating workshops in Jordan, Palestine and Lebanon.
“START uniquely encourages artists to become volunteers in the field of humanitarian aid and education by participating in the workshops. We believe every child has the right to self-expression, to be heard and acknowledged either orally, in writing or through artistic expression,” said Tanaz Dizadji, the Director of START.
It is an initiative that utilizes the international language of art to heal, educate and enrich the skills and opportunities of children poorest areas of the region. Currently, START is organizing workshops in the UAE for children with special needs, including Autism and Down syndrome.
These art therapy-based sessions seek to heal, empower and help children to resolve inner conflict and gain a measure of self-worth and awareness.
Louis Vuitton and START share common values, as well as the vision to nurture children and their creativity in the hopes of creating a future as rich and free as their imaginations.

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