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Alum Donates Art Proceeds to Earthquake Relief

Smith alum Mariam Martinez Zapata ’95 was quick to react to the need for relief in Iran following a an earthquake there on December 26, 2003, that measured 6.8 on the Richter scale and so far has claimed more than 30,000 lives.

Zapata, an artist who lives in Washington, D.C., has announced that she will donate half of all her art show proceeds to Mercy Corps, a relief group that supports thousands of Iranian people left homeless by the earthquake.

Zapata, an emerging artist originally from Paraquay, paints mostly portraits on large canvases using a palette of the three primary colors-red, blue and yellow-plus white. When she saw pictures of victims of the earthquake, she took action. “When I saw the faces of the people who experienced the devastation, I knew something needed to be done,” she says. “We must all come together for magic and beauty to happen. In my portraits I use varied color strokes that come together to make a unique work of art. We are very much like these strokes of color.”

He Wore Red by Miriam Martinez Zapata ’95

The epicenter of the Iran earthquake centered around Bam, a city about 625 miles southeast of Tehran, destroying 90 percent of the buildings there. A 56-year-old man was rescued today after spending 13 days buried in rubble in the city. However, rescue experts say it is very rare for people to survive more than 72 hours in such a situation.

Mercy Corps, a group endorsed by the National Iranian-American Council, has assisted the estimated 100,000 people left homeless by the Bam earthquake by providing more than 13,000 blankets, 1,000 space heaters, drinking water and family-size tents.

Zapata, who majored in studio art at Smith before earning a masters degree in early childhood special education from George Washington University, has worked as a self-employed artist since 2002 and has created several works on commission. Her latest portraits will be on display at Kramer’s & Afterwords Café & Grill ( in Washington’s Dupont Circle from February 9 through March 7. For more information and samples of her art, consult, or send email to To make donations directly to Mercy Corps, consult

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