Family Art

Posted - Jun. 19, 2001 at 12:24 p.m.



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This is Fred Ball for Zions Bank, speaking on business.

Susan and William Byers of Alpine have gone in to business—not simply for their own benefit—but to help people of another country help themselves.

The country is Zimbabwe, and the Byers came to know it while serving a mission there in 1998 for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Though Zimbabwe is impoverished, the Byers told me that its people remain optimistic and close within their families and communities. The Byers also noticed that there were many talented local artisans. They were particularly interested in the sculptures the artisans produced that depicted universal family themes and values. The timeless pieces, which represented the people’s love for their families and communities, had been created from solid stone and native wood for generations. The beauty of the artwork mixed with the positive nature of the people impressed the Byers and inspired them to want to do something.

It wasn’t long before the Byers discovered that by bringing the beautiful, uplifting pieces of hand-carved artwork to the United States to sell, they could help Zimbabwean families get the funds they desperately needed for education and healthcare. Some of the art had already gained international recognition, most notably in Europe. And in the United States, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints chose a piece for its Museum of Church History and Art.

After returning from their mission in April of 2000, the Byers organized the Family Art Foundation. They then began selecting Zimbabwean sculptures to import and found great works of beauty and graceful composition, particularly in pieces that expressed family relationships. Next, the Byers organized Family Art Inc., a company that would oversee the day-to-day business of importing the art. It has allowed them to fund 100 percent of the operating expenses of the Family Art Foundation. And all of the money contributed to the foundation goes directly to charitable projects in Zimbabwe. It truly helps the people in need receive the maximum amount of benefit from contributions. I’d say the efforts of Susan and William Byers are really a work of art.

For Zions Bank, I’m Fred Ball. I’m speaking on business.

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