Artists Jeanne Staples and Stephanie Danforth, both year-round island residents, have been deeply immersed in social aid projects seeking to improve the lives of women and girls in developing countries. Both maintain careers as full-time, professional artists, but spend significant portions of their free time engaged in their respective projects.
Jeanne Staples is the founder and Executive Director of PeaceQuilts, a non-profit, 501(c)(3), humanitarian organization relieving poverty in Haiti by establishing and supporting independent women’s quilting cooperatives. PeaceQuitls works with about 100 women who create one-of-a-kind art quilts, reflecting Haiti’s rich cultural heritage. The organization provides training, materials, and educational opportunities and markets their one-of-a-kind art quilts with a goal of helping each cooperative become self-managed and self-sustaining.
Jeanne is a classically-trained painter, educated at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the pre-eminent institution of American realism. A member of the Copley Society of Art in Boston, she has taught painting and drawing at the Albany Institute of History & Art, the Rensellaer County Council for the Arts, and was Coordinator of Education for the Empire State Plaza Art Collection, and the New York State Governor’s Mansion in Albany. Her interests range from the evocative and timeless landscapes of Martha’s Vineyard, where she has lived and worked since 1993 – to figurative, narrative work, which often depicts Haitian friends and colleagues – to more modernist interests with her series of 3-D paintings which explores the nexus of traditional realism and popular culture. Jeanne is represented on the island by The Granary Gallery in West Tisbury.
Stephanie Danforth has been involved in Kenya since her first visit there in 2000. “My soul was touched forever by my experience.” Having had a previous career as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, her love and care for children was solidified there. Since then, every dollar she makes with her art goes directly to helping provide education for children in Kenya. She returns every year to oversee their progress, and as she says “douse” them with love. “I believe very strongly in the concept of “pay it forward” and that is what my art allows me to do. My years in pediatrics and art blend together to make its purpose even more profound for me. It’s my guiding belief that by educating and empowering girls, we are able to change the face of poverty.”
Stephanie started her artistic career painting watercolors, but her work soon expanded to encompass a fascinating array of fine art which includes crafting abstract sculptural angels from found and antique objects, mixed-media works, oils and detailed handmade boxes. The Field Gallery in West Tisbury represents her on the island where patrons have been captivated by her paintings of luminous fruit, vegetables, children (some from Kenya), farm animals, and everyday items from the past. She is a former member of the New England Watercolor Society, and an award-winning member of the prestigious Copley Society of Boston.