The purpose of the Welcome Pineapple Project (WPP) is to raise awareness of the challenges of international adoption. Welcome Pineapple is a visual and written narrative to a complex social, economic and spiritual topic that provides a safe environment to discuss difficult post adoption issues of raising a child from another country.
My family's adoption story isn’t traumatic, but we experience post adoption challenges including behavioral, financial, social, educational and mental stress. Finding a safe place to discuss issues related to adoption can be difficult. We continually seek professional advice and balance the help from caring friends and family. Even with all this help, our family still struggles.
Artists are extremely sensitive to their environment so to deal with my personal struggles I began to paint profusely. My work became personal therapy which reflected struggles about finances, defiance, fear, shame, embarrassment, anger, police reports, personal health, etc. After painting more than 50 pineapples, people ask, “Why the pineapple?” I began to research and I learned that pineapples are a symbol of friendship and hospitality. Second, I learned that pineapples have bromelain, an enzyme that promotes health and healing. As I painted the different qualities of the pineapple from the prickly outside, the sweet inside, the crown and the color, the pineapple became a symbol of positive experiences like healing, friendship, sweet moments and hope. And it also could communicate some of the difficult moments like rough experiences, missed expectations, failures, disappointment, and emotional stress.
The more I shared our adoption story, I realized that the pineapple was becoming a symbol of welcoming life’s challenges. When I welcomed the challenges instead of ignoring them, I was in a position to make a positive change. I realized that pineapples had the power to make a positive change in my life and it could do the same for others. In 2017, I officially started a project called the Welcome Pineapple. The more I painted pineapples, the more I shared our adoption story, the more people confided that the pineapples had a calming quality for them. The pineapples were connecting people and they were also providing a way to raise money to support the adoptive families who could not afford therapy and counseling.
How can the Welcome Pineapple Project affect positive social change?
It wasn’t hard to find research and data that supported my personal understanding of the challenges and the lack of support in our community. In August 2012, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) hosted a two-day meeting to discuss science, policy, and practice related to the behavioral health challenges of children who have been adopted and their families. SAMHSA found that parents experience many challenges in finding supports for the myriad behavioral health issues of their adopted children. Likewise, parents can feel unprepared and ill-equipped to deal with these concerns. Family-driven and youth-guided care are critical components to consider when approaching discussions around adoption services and supports.
Pineapples are a perfect metaphor for raising awareness to the challenges of post adoption in children from other countries because they are safe and fun symbol to start respectful conversations about a social, political, economical and spiritual topic. Welcome Pineapple can affect positive social change through creativity, conversation and collaboration.
At the core, Welcome Pineapple is about creating a visual narrative that represents the post-adoption challenges from the viewpoint of a family with international adoption experience.
To solve a prickly problem, it first needs to be identified and recognized. Creating conversation is the key to raising awareness. Art has the power to share information in a non-verbal format that reduces barriers and judgment. The Welcome Pineapple Project educates and engages the community about the challenges of international adoption in a fun and safe way.
Sweet success comes from collaborating with organizations, companies, and other creative talent to build the network of supporters. Working together, we can reach financial goals, make products, and connect the right partners. The profits from selling original paintings and reproductions go to support local foundations who have services that support adoptive families.
We believe in the power that art has to create positive change in the world.
Canvas for a Cause and the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption
CG Pro Prints and Welcome Pineapple are collaborating to offer (15) 5"x7" gallery wrapped Welcome Pineapple canvas wraps for only $10. This offer is possible because of the generous donation of prints by CG Pro Prints' Canvas for a Cause Program. 100% of the proceeds will be donated to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. Visit the Karen Ahuja Studio Etsy shop to purchase the Welcome Pineapple canvas for only $10 + free shipping. Click below to order now (for a limited time while prints last).
Order a 5"x7" Welcome Pineapple Canvas Wrap for only $10.00!
100% of the proceeds will be donated to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption
About Karen Ahuja
Karen Ahuja is a sassy visual artist working in Fayetteville Arkansas. When not painting or creating she is a wife, mother of three teenagers, addicted to fostering kittens, and a new enthusiast of Coton de Tulears. With a degree in graphic design and an MBA in Marketing, Karen is passionate about creating art that inspires her community. Her work can be found at Homegoods, Art Ventures Gallery, and on her website, KarenAhuja.com. Follow her on Instagram (link below) to see her most recent work.