Rising Sun Relief

Locals use fashion to raise funds/awareness for Japan

By Katie Anible-Modras

Shannon Thomas printing in the shop.

T-shirts talk. Ever since Che Guevara graced the front of an average cotton knit and ever since the Free Tibet movement’s t-shirts opened the world’s eyes to a tiny country’s silent plight, fashion, in a sense had spoken and the people heard.
Does this mean that we consider that art or fashion, the creators and designers, have a social responsibility to use their talents to contribute in some way to society? Art and social activism have naturally gone hand-in-hand for generations. The screen-printed poster work created during the fight for racial equality in our own county continues to compel and move.
We are visual creatures and messages displayed in an aesthetic manner leave a lasting impression on the mind and where better to wear your heart, than on your sleeve? Here in Dayton several creators have coordinated to generate such lasting images. Eye Candy Art Gallery and Studios has teamed up with local screen-printing business, Four Ambition, to use T-shirts to bring about awareness and to raise valuable funds for the people of Japan in their time of dire need.
On March 11, the 8.9 magnitude earthquake, resulting tsunami and the consequential damage caused to the Fukushima nuclear power plant has thoroughly devastated the nation. Still feeling the after effects of the earthquake in Haiti almost exactly one year ago, humankind’s need grows. The American Red Cross continues to aid the Japanese Red Cross, providing prepared meals, blankets, housing and clean water. The need for financial support is staggering, the very reason why average people around the world are coming up with ways that they can contribute with what they have and Dayton is no exception.
Eye Candy Art Gallery and Studios is the brainchild of local portrait photographer, Seth Renner. His multi-purpose gallery exists as a full photographic studio with professional grade equipment and lighting that Renner has made available to area photographers who lack their own studio space, as well as acting as a group art gallery.
“I wanted to make a space that other photographer’s could think of as their own when they are getting to use it,” said Renner.
He explains the heart of his project. For an hourly or daily fee, photographers can use the studio and equipment for their own creative processes and business needs. The studio is temporarily located at the Linden/Davis studio complex, with its future home at 15 McDonough St.
Four Ambition is a locally run screen-printing business owned by Shannon Thomas, dedicated to assisting other local businesses, bands and artists to promote themselves or produce their own work through the production of quality printed goods. They see their business as a means to bring themselves to a place of self-sufficiency, while assisting others to do the same.
In the wake of the disaster in Japan, Thomas was inspired to use what he does best, printing T-shirts, to help others. He was not alone. Renner and Thomas, who are studio neighbors, shared this burden to make a difference. Their mutual friend and the benefit coordinator, Jessica Bucholz, of partial Japanese decent, was deeply moved by the tragedy and desired to help in any way she could as well. They began to move into action, working with others in the area to ask themselves what they could do for Japan. Rising Sun Relief was their answer.
Rising Sun Relief is a group of like-minded printers, artists and social activists from the Dayton area who have banned together to design and sell T-shirts and buttons with messages and images promoting aid to Japan in such a dark hour. “Pray for Japan” – nestled into the corner of a sprawling rising sun with a small heart at its center is one such T-shirt design. This design and others inspiring hope have been selling well with all proceeds going to the American Red Cross for Japan.
“We’ve all been pleasantly surprised at the sales,” said Thomas of the success of the project. “We’ve been able to raise close to $1,000 so far and expect to have just enough to sell out during our event.”
In addition to the T-shirt production and sales, Rising Sun Relief will also be holding a benefit event on May 20. Dayton area school districts, individuals and artists have donated art inspired by Japan to be sold at the event. There will be raffles and prizes, live acoustic music performed by local musician, Marques Kincaid, while attendees are invited to enjoy complimentary Japanese food, desserts and beverages. All of the proceeds from the $5 entry, plus all of the art sold will be donated. This opportunity will also include the chance to get a close look at the environment and inner workings of the gallery and studios.
It seems that an individual’s efforts can reach much further than their two arms can and that a picture is worth a thousand words. In our world, tumultuous as it is at times, humanity continues to flower, reminding us that tragedy in another part of the world is also our own – that we must work together. Rising Sun Relief reminds us of this very thing.

The Rising Sun Relief Benefit is on May 20 at 400 Linden Ave. in the Linden/Davis Warehouse Complex with a $5 donation. Please contact RisingSunRelief@yahoo.com with questions or comments. Buy a shirt or button today at www.risingsunrelief.bigcartel.com.

Reach DCP freelance writer Katie Anible-Modras at katieaniblemodras@daytoncitypaper.com.

About Katie Anible-Modras

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