In our latest blog interview, Cara Lemire spoke with Tom Foley, who is painting for philanthropy. Tom is one of the newest members of the Life Preservers Project Artist Collective. He also volunteers as a Mission Ambassador to the Paving The Way Foundation to raise awareness about human trafficking and prevent it through educational programs for families, teachers, and the hospitality industry. His role as a mission ambassador is to raise awareness about sex trafficking, and how to prevent it from happening in our communities, through our educational programs that empower youth, their parents and teachers to protect children from sexual exploitation.
Life Preservers Project: How did youth and community arts education influence your work?
Tom Foley: I never received any arts education but I have been an admirer and supporter of youth and community programs because children and young adults express themselves through so many mediums. Some find the arts as a way not only to express themselves but also as a way to communicate what they may be experiencing and need help addressing. When attempting to build bonds with children so they can tell you if they are being mistreated, you have to make many options available. Not all children will just speak about it, some may write about it, some may draw about it, or paint about it, but we as a community of people who care need to be able to hear all of it.
LPP: Why have you picked this particular medium to work within? Is there a specific reason you create the way you create?
TF: I paint because it’s the only medium that feels natural to me. It also teaches me patience which I need and I hear is a virtue, so I’m eager to learn it.
LPP: Why do you support nonprofits/charity? Why support the Life Preservers Project?
TF: During the first few years of my 10 years in London, I had the honor of working with judges and legal protections on issues like child abduction, child relocation, and forced marriage which gave me a sense of obligation to help vulnerable children and women. Human trafficking, or modern slavery, has emerged as the perfect storm combination from the increase in vulnerable
children and women resulting from the significantly increasing economic disparities around the world combined with the now global pervasiveness of social media in the lives of the young especially. Vulnerable and desperate youth around the world can easy fall victim traffickers using sophisticated social media and social pressure schemes that youth need to be educated about.
LPP: What kind of social impact does your art have?
TF: At the moment my art just a hobby. To be honest, I didn’t think it would or could have any social impact, so it’s an honor to be considered to help support LPP through my art and I hope it does.
LPP: Describe your inspiration- artists, humanitarians, writers, musicians, etc.
TF: My grandfather was an artist and advertising executive on Madison Avenue back in the 60’s and early 70’s. Although he passed away before I met him, I am told that I inherited some of his ability to paint. It’s slightly eerie actually to see the common styles we have, but he’s my inspiration. I’m also just generally inspired by artists who have talent and conviction to pursue a life creating what they have passion for. It’s what the world has always and will always need.