Latin American Art Resource Project


Project Description

The Latin American Art Resource Project (LAARP) is a development program that teaches artists, artisans, and art educators how to work with sustainable resources. It was conceived in 1994 by William Swetcharnik, professional artist with twenty-five years of experience in historical painting media and United States Senior Fulbright Fellow to Honduras. Working in communities where the need is greatest, the program demonstrates the economic and artistic benefits of working with traditional practices such as the preparation of paints with native earth colors. This is particularly important for schools which cannot afford to conduct art classes because of the cost of imported materials. The main focus of the program therefore is on education: developing teacher training aids and providing workshops to show how these art materials can be made and used in the schools, which are used a springboard for a variety of community applications such as mural paintings with public health and environmental messages.

Another important dimension of the program is working with indigenous artisans and when possible, getting them involved with local school projects. With the help of volunteers and local collaborators, the art resource program conducts a wide range of workshops and projects that attempt to address the following concerns:

  • Artistic: Enable children to discover their talents, and youngartists and artisans to undertake a vocation using affordable, accessible and authentic materials.
  • Cultural: Revive the use of traditional materials and methods native to the region, and encourage a sense of identity and appreciation toward its own history and resources.
  • Environmental: Encourage appropriate use of available natural resources, reducing the contamination and cost entailed in the importation of products from industrial countries.
  • Economic: Promote self-sufficiency among small art and craft businesses, especially in rural areas, and help them create products and settings attractive for eco-tourism.

Over the past six years, the program has proven its worth on an impressive scale, conducting over forty workshops and community projects with over 2,000 participants throughout Central America and the Caribbean. Most of its activities have taken place in Honduras, in collaboration with the National Teachers University, the National Teachers Union, the National Art School, the National Artists Association, the Ministries of Education and Culture, and numerous other institutions. A national advisory board was set up with representatives from these institutions, with activities including mural projects with urban children in social risk, "cultural rescue" projects with different ethnic groups, a project to produce paints from native earth colors for schools and art-oriented microindustries, training programs for rural school teachers, and the creation of a national curricular outline integrating art with the study of historical Mesoamerican art practices, geology and other natural sciences, and the appropriate use of natural resources. International sponsors of projects have included the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Organization of American States (OAS), and the Interamerican Development Bank (IADB). For additional information, please refer to the other sections of this Web site.


Since its beginning, the art resource program has been supported largely on a private basis by William and Sara Swetcharnik, the two artists who do most of the staff work, from their own income as artists. For many years, William and Sara have made their living as artists and have never derived any personal monetary benefit from administering this program. In many cases, projects have been undertaken gratis when local beneficiaries could not afford to contribute. Whenever income has been derived from program activities, it has been reinvested in program infrastructure or used to pay salaries of Honduran staff. Similarly, all income resulting from fees paid by interns has always been applied toward long-term program expenses.

For ease and simplicity of administration, the art resource program is not presently set up as a not-profit organization. Most of its projects are conducted in affiliation with other non-profits, an arrangement whereby project budgets can be independently administered and tax-deductibility can be conferred to contributors. The program does not receive any income from Hood College, which provided this Web site, nor from any other sponsoring institution. Contributions are welcomed, but donors who desire tax deductions must channel them through collaborating institutions.

National Capital Post Office, Box 77794, Washington, DC 20013 USA   |   301.831.7286, 301.829.0137