Meet the Barats

About the Barat Foundation

The nonprofit Barat Foundation began in 1997 to give students a change to experience and create art. In Newark, it has enabled thousands of children to work with artists, creating over 50 pieces of public art on view throughout the city. The Barat Foundation is responsible for the city’s largest collaborate artwork, a peace mural painted by over 500 children in 14 schools to greet the Dalai Llama when he visited the city.

The foundation’s Animodule™ sculptures have been named Newark’s Official Peace Ambassadors by then Mayor, now Senator Cory Booker. They are created by Newark youth working with artists. They are symbols of creativity, community, the power of expression and the city’s potential to rebuild itself. Projects like these reflect the Barat Foundation’s commitment to nonviolence, civic engagement and the power of art to transform live and communities.

The Barat’s believe that arts education is vital. They have seen firsthand how it helps students collaborate, problem solve, develop leadership skills and harness the power of self expression.

The foundation has received funding from the New Jersey Sate Council on the Arts, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Victoria Foundation, the city of Newark and the United Way, among others. It’s headquartered at the foundation’s One Gallery, at One Gateway Center in Newark.

About the Barats

The Barats became involved in arts education after Gary Barat was diagnosed with H.I.V in 1989. Back then, the disease was viewed as a death sentence and H.I.V patients were shunned. Gary and his wife, Chandri, were entrepreneurs who founded one of the nation’s first organic food companies. But after the diagnosis, they vowed to pursue their passion for art and learning and help others do the same. 

They decided to move to Provence, France for a summer with their two young daughters and, with input from artists and academics, designed a curriculum that focuses on exposure to art as the first step in creating it. 

Initially funded entirely by the Barats, the foundation began as an overseas summer program to share the art and culture of Provence with aspiring teen artists. But after working with families from Newark’s Integrity House for substance abusers, they started programs in the city, where children have been especially hard hit by cuts in arts education funding. 

The Barats moved from the New Jersey suburbs to Newark and have dedicated themselves to the city’s revitalization. Their daughter Athene, creative director of the foundation, and Ariana, an artist in residence, work with them, leading projects for children and other city residents in schools, businesses, and community centers.