Last evening I wrapped up a panel that I’ve been working on over the past few weeks. I was thinking a lot about the act of painting someone’s story and the privilege of that opportunity. I think that it’s important to be true to the story, but also to incorporate your own style and approach. It’s a balance.
The greater themes here are father and child, service to country, sacrifice, connection and transcendence. I received excellent biographical information from the little girl in this photograph…a young lady now. Her story is a potent one and initially, it brought me to tears.
Text comes from Walt Whitman’s preface to Leaves of Grass…these were adhered to the panel through transfer. As well, the words Blood and Memory. To say that Lawrence Hill did not impact this piece would be a fib. I began painting the commission after listening to him speak of universal truths…I see an artist’s images like he sees the written word and so there is a true responsibility in the marks that I make.
“But I have long loved the written word, and come to see in it the power of the sleeping lion. This is my name. This is who I am. This is how I got here. In the absence of an audience, I will write down my story so that it waits like a restful beast with lungs breathing and heart beating.”
― Lawrence Hill, Someone Knows My Name
“This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem.” Whitman