Tuesday, September 25, 2018

"Emancipation" Revisted

"Emancipation" 55x55, Oil on Canvas

As a visual artist I struggle with how much to "say" about a painting and how much to leave to the viewer to interpret. When I first finished this painting I had some strong things to say in color and form but didn't feel it was necessary to write them out.

After I came back from Gettysburg I had a pivotal conversation with a Professor and Director of Civil War Studies at Gettysburg College, Dr. Allen Guelzo. He has won the Lincoln Prize twice in his life and the Abraham Lincoln Institute Prize. He is also author of numerous books. The one I talked to him about was his bestselling narrative called, Gettysburg: The Last Invasion. You can read more about him HERE.

He did not know me at all but graciously agreed to give me over an hour of his time one afternoon in July in his cozy office. We spoke briefly about his past as a Military brat and his interest in Jonathan Edwards (of which he had a picture of Edwards on his wall I asked him about). The main meat of our conversation having to do with Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation. In his words: today we see what it didn't do whereas during it's day it WAS the greatest written document that Lincoln ever penned (and that includes the Gettysburg Address). Please watch Dr. Guelzo's talk HERE for deeper engagement. 

I had two questions for Dr. Guelzo. One I won't share at this time. But the second one had to do with an obscure note that President Lincoln had written and stuffed into his desk. Apparently, he liked to work out problems in his mind by writing them down.

"The will of God prevails. In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be, wrong. God cannot be for and against the same thing at the same time. In the present Civil War it is quite possible that God's purpose is something different from the purpose of either party. And yet the human instrumentalities, working just as they do are of the best adaption to effect his purpose." 

I started to quote it and Dr. Guelzo said, "I know that passage very well. I have been wrestling with it for a long time." I started to get very teary as I felt the Lord's presence very heavily in the room with us. Dr. Guelzo shared (as he was getting out Kleenex for me) that he believed Lincoln penned the note in 1862 when the South was winning battle after battle. Things were looking very bleak for the Union. Lincoln had made a promise "to his Maker" (even as he struggled with his faith and in fact, was not a professing Christian) that he would put forth the Emancipation Proclamation if Lee would move back south from Maryland after his invasion (what we know as the Battle of Antietam). The Battle was fought and although it is considered a "draw" by Civil War scholars Lee did move back south after the bloody battle. It was at this point that Lincoln met with his cabinet (and it was a cabinet made up of opposing views and politics. See the book Team of Rivals).  They ALL opposed the Emancipation Proclamation. It was political suicide for the Union. They needed the border states to win the war (no slaves were freed in the border states in the Emancipation Proclamation yet it would make them such a small anomaly that it would be difficult to keep slavery in America) this would only make the abolitionists happy. Lincoln pressed his belief that now was the time. Basically saying, "We are doing this!"

When I asked Dr. Guelzo what was the spiritual purpose of the war (the only scholar I could actually ask that to) he said, "Freedom." And I saw tears in his own eyes as I was crying. Not because we didn't know that God wanted to free African Americans but because he wanted it done during precarious conditions when the odds were staked against it. To see how God threaded the needle of freedom was beautiful. I felt like I was seeing the beauty that God was making out of all the blood and death.

As I have sat with this painting I realize it's more than just the Emancipation Proclamation. It's not just one point in history that we can look at, debate and talk about with different American views. In a sense it became something more to me as I thought about the freeing of the slaves as the tree is broken, without leaves. This great tree that represents (to me) all that weariness of still trying to bring life out of something stripped. If you will notice the left side of the tree one of the limbs curls like a noose. I meant this to represent the Reconstruction and Jim Crow era that was to come after the War. According to the Tuskegee Institute there were 4,743 lynchings during the time 1882-1968. I believe all Americans should visit the National Memorial for Peace and Justice (just opened this year). I still have yet to see it with my own eyes but I believe I must. The names (by county) hang above the viewer's head as they were hung in trees for us to finally recognize. The tree I painted not only depicts the weariness of trying to keep going, keep hoping, keep reaching towards that illusive thing called freedom. It also speaks into the pain and death that was and is the legacy of America.

In another, more personal note. I found this image on my father's phone (as his screen saver) after he died in August of this year. He had struggled for many (over 20) years with cluster headaches that debilitated him and left him fighting depression and PTSD. He saw this tree as himself. A reflection of his continual struggle to keep going, even though broken. I share this to add that sometimes images go into places that you don't even dream about.

For these reasons I renamed the painting, "Emancipation" because it's more than one point in history. It is a prayer. A struggled prayer. One that doesn't see clearly but hopes that the light will bring sight to see what needs to be seen. In our time we still struggle with blood on our land. It is for us, the living, to not let that blood be spilled in vain. If God can thread this tiny needle that set to a pattern that hasn't been fully realized yet then let our time, our bit, make more of the quilt. This rich tapestry that shares His love.



Monday, September 24, 2018

"Your Brother's Blood" 20x20, Oil on Canvas

"Your Brother's Blood" 20x20, Oil on Canvas
(Formerly titled, "Cain" but I did several new glazes and liked the new title better)

This was taken from the passage of scripture about Cain and Abel.  You may go HERE to read more about what initially set me towards this painting. I struggled with it for many years as I never liked the "mood" it set. I finally decided that I should just push the colors and value a bit with some glazes to see how it felt. I did around 4 more layers and like it better.

I share it with you now in it's "final" form. 

This painting will be in my upcoming show based on the Civil War. Mary Tomas Gallery April 2019.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Returning to Gettysburg!


My 19 (20th isn't done) paintings in 21 days at Gettysburg

I have such great news! I am going back to Gettysburg October 24th - November 4th! It will be a quicker trip but I am so pleased and blessed by the National Park Arts Foundation along with Gettysburg National Military Park to get to finish off my residency! Talk about giddy! THANK YOU Tanya Ortega! You are the absolute best!!

It has made me cry today (again) thinking about how my dad would be so happy for me to get to go back. He is dancing a cheesy jig (he would wiggle his hips and pump his fists in the air) and say, "Yeah boy!" Lol!! Oh, how I miss him you guys.

I feel sure there is a bit of saying "goodbye" (related to dad) for me there too. I was so rushed in leaving last time it was like I was tearing myself to get out. Now to go back and retrace those steps and heal a little. I've been learning that grief takes time and it is something you go through not get over. I've been sitting with the cup that God has for me to drink. The sorrow and the joy all mixed together as Henry Nouwen writes in Can You Drink the Cup?

A Mentor wrote to me the other day and said, 

"The best way to honor your father is to create, let the grief and pain refract on the surfaces of your works. Every vista, every hill, every blade of grass refracts your deeper longings and his legacy in your life now. These efforts will not be washed away by the waves of sand but will withstand the Fire (1 Corinthians 3) and will be part of the New Creation."

Would you pray for me in these ways:

That what my Mentor wrote would be true. It would be a refraction of pain and grief and new life.

That I will be able to sell some works with Mary Tomas Gallery, Joseph Gierek Fine Art, and Waterfall Mansion so that I could bless them and fund my trip! May God bring the perfect buyer that would be blessed by the works.

For my sweet family while I'm away. My husband is holding down the fort and my sweet Mom is helping everybody get where they need to be. Pray for grace and some sweet time together.

Please pray for me getting from Baltimore to Gettysburg! I am directionally challenged! If I end up in Washington DC, you know why! LOL!

 Lastly, I thank you all for the kind notes and prayers you are giving me every day. I can't thank you 
enough dear friends. God has been ever kind and faithful.


Monday, August 27, 2018

Gettysburg, Beauty, Families and Grief

 
My painting of The Peach Orchard where
Union and Confederates fought on the 2nd day of the Battle of Gettysburg 
 
 
I am writing this three weeks from having to come home suddenly because of my Dad's stroke. I flew out of Baltimore (leaving Gettysburg) the evening of August 6th and got to my Mom and Dad's house around midnight. My husband and sweet girls were not able to fly home with me and had to drive back from Pennsylvania. In the early part of August 7th we were contacted by my sister to get to the hospital. The ER nurse told her that it was looking bad. Daddy's kidneys had shut down and the doctors were not able to get the whole clot that had travelled to the right side of his brain. There was nothing left for them to do. We girls were all there. Present in moments that were thick and painful. But even there I could feel love. We were given people that were standing with us during those final moments. We each felt deep love for dad and from dad. Even though he couldn't talk and wasn't conscious. In fact, once we decided to not prolong his life on the machines (we would have to sign papers and then the nurse would come in and pull the tubes and supports from his body) it was as if Dad agreed with us. His breathing became so shallow and his blood pressure got lower and lower. All we had done was agree to let him go. I think Dad was so ready. He was still tethered to that weary body. One that had suffered with a great deal of pain with cluster headaches for 20 years. I believe the Lord was opening the door and dad was passing through it.
 
After the nurse came in and did take away his tubes and machines he looked so peaceful and handsome. It took maybe two minutes for him to stop breathing. It was so fast. I knew I was looking at a body. Not my dad but very much my dad at the same time. His soft hands and his feet. The way he clipped his beard so carefully and cleanly. This was the casing I had loved so long but that energy and spirit was not with us. There was no way to call him back through the door.
 
I don't have the strength to share all that happened. Maybe one day I will. But I can share that he was surrounded by love as we were (and still are). I can also share that these past three weeks have been so long. It feels like a lifetime ago that I was in Gettysburg.
 
As I've been looking through all the photos I took while I was there along with my painting studies I felt like God was showing me how He was readying me for something hard. I was looking at a landscape filled with death and pain and yet every time I ventured out I found beauty and life. I even asked the Lord, "Really? Am I seeing this right?" Over the days I just felt my way through the days. I would be attracted to how the light hit the little farm I was staying in as a storm passed over.

 
 
The Klingel Farm where I stayed against the dark storm clouds.
I called it my "crooked little house" as it truly had boards that went in wrong angles.
I loved it. Like it was telling a story from memory.
 
 
 
I was having a ball. I felt like some kind of energy was taking over as I would get up around 5:20 in the morning to make it out to some piece of land to watch the sun come up. I would walk for hours and find little secret spots to paint. I talked to everyone that I could. Rangers and Head Rangers, Professors of Civil War and even tourists that would let me ask them questions. I spent time talking to Living Historians (reenactors but don't call them that!). I felt like a living sponge.
 
On the third week my family (my husband and three girls) were finally staying with me at the farm. This gave me such an added strength. And we had a good routine going. I would go out early to walk for a few hours and gather clues (photos and ideas and sketches) and then come back to the farm where we would have breakfast and read the Bible together and play some games. After that I would paint for the rest of the day until evening and then go out on another longer walk to paint and gather clues and watch the sunset. Sometimes we would go to Gettysburg township for supper and sometimes sweet Kendrick would cook with one of the girls (they took turns). I told them, "I could get used to this!" Lots of laughter was in that little house and I thought about that constantly as I knew the Klingels had struggled with death (they kept losing children) a great deal in their family life. I thought about how it was neat that a family was finally staying in this little farm again.
 
That final Friday we all went to the Spangler Farm together. This was a HUGE farm. 80 acres (at least for a northerner who did not have slaves to work a plantation). The Spangler family agreed to let their farm, land and barn be used for a hospital for the Union soldiers. It would see over 1300+ men come through in the three days of battle. Amputations were done on the open side of the barn under the overhang while the large back door that came out on a bank would be where the soldiers who were waiting to die or had already been treated were laid. Sometimes in the open fields. The Spangler family lost all their crops and livestock feeding the men but they stayed and helped anyway. I wrote in my journal:
 
"I have been so affected by the acts of courage here. So many stories. there is something particularly courageous about the ones who went towards the pain and suffering and dispensed mercy and kindness. We have a sense of what the Civil War doctors and nurses were like (we see them as savage brutes) yet I learned they were overwhelmed with the horror and evils they had to confront yet they tried (with what they had) to comfort and help as many as they could. It makes me so aware that it matters. Love matters. Each person is given that choice to be overwhelmed or move towards love."
 
Spangler Barn where the amputations were made under the overhang.
If you had an abdomen wound or head wound you weren't treated (you were considered dead).
 
My girls in front of the overhang where the doctors would
lean their backs on the stones to do amputations that went on for days.
 
The back of the barn (the "bank" side" that opened to a slope. the men
would be laid out inside and down into the lawn for recovery
(from the amputations) or to die.
 
 
I wrote these lines after the tour:
 
"The guide at the Spangler Farm said, "Remember that this didn't happen on a battlefield but on over 36 farms." It was families that were affected. They lived their lives sowing and reaping and waiting and one day (or three) their was fire and blood and the farms became more than homes but hospitals, sniper hide-outs and places to steal food to eat. They became drenched in all of it. The mess of the men and animals crashing together and the land held it like the hand of God. It is a gift to stand in the same landscape and breathe the air, feel the rain or sun cycle of the day and be human in a place of such tension. But there is a peace here too. Like the sunrise or sunset. The beauty opens the window to the reality of this space. Only beauty can do it because it holds it here in kindness so we can bear it, such sorrow and death."
 
"New Life" 9x12, Oil on Panel

 
The fourth week was full of appointments and final things. I had a show scheduled for the Visitor Center and some meetings with dear friends. Those things never happened as Dad's stroke came down like a full stop. In fact, I haven't painted since dad died. I know I will but I am still making my way to it right now.
 
I wanted to leave you with one of my final entries during my time there.
 
"The place is full of memory, war, pain but there is so much life. I see it in the deer in the mornings and the little rabbits in the hedges. I am mesmerized by the beautiful fireflies at night! I hear so many birds and see them flock the fields. There is so much green growth. Everything has moss growing on it or vines. Life is abundant and generous in such a place as the Valley of the Shadow...there is mystery, beauty with the tones of something dark - maybe the knowledge of what happened here. The Lord can redeem all of it. I believe that."
 
I read these entries and I see and hear a good God. He was making me ready. Tilling my earth. Giving me ways to bear what was coming.
 
 


Sunday, July 22, 2018

First Week in Gettysburg

First Night in Gettysburg
 
 
Before I even begin I just want to thank the National Parks, specifically Gettysburg National Military Park, The Gettysburg Foundation who funded this residency and provided the housing for me to stay in at the Park and The National Park Arts Foundation, in particular Tanya Ortega who founded this wonderful non-profit and who personally sees to the artist residencies. She is a national treasure! I will try to share more in the following entries. But please, if you are an Artist reading this look into the NPAF and apply for a residency!
 
I came to Gettysburg with many questions. Not so much about the battle (although there are many names and specific moments within this ONE great battle broken over three days). I had expected to feel tension and perhaps not a peaceful satisfaction to the questions. I had not expected so much beauty. From the first evening spent in Klingel House the sunsets set off the landscape in dramatic ways.
 
Klingel Farm and the sunset
 


This farm was here during the battle. The Klingel's had to flee their land before the fighting broke out. Their piece of land would see Wilcox's Alabama men come through their own farm, yard and even into their kitchen looking for something to eat. Several dead Confederates were found around this house with the meal still cooking in the pot as a shell blew up over them. They died before they could eat. 
 
I thought about how all the farms on the Battlefield took the brunt of such violence. Yet, here they are (or at least some of them). Sentinels to endurance, community and deep beauty because it is their fields we love to tramp and take pictures in.
 
The Klingel House sits in the middle of some of the fiercest fighting in the Battle of Gettysburg. Right across from the Peach Orchard and just down from The Wheatfield. The Farm sits between both armies. Right exactly in the middle. From the top window I can see where General Lee sat to watch Pickett's Charge. And from my back door I can see the heights of Cemetery Ridge where General Meade headquartered and the Union Army held the high ground.
 
In the Morning Sun

 
During this week I've had the pleasure of getting to go into the Museum and view the video, Cyclorama Painting and Civil War Museum. It took over three hours to do all of it and I think I could still go back. I was pleased to see that the video wasn't just about the battle maneuvers and particular military personnel but about the causes of whys of the Civil War. I was grateful that the Parks have not shied away from these tough discussions and kept the main thing on the table. That, in my opinion, is slavery. I also appreciated seeing the battle more specifically as you walked through the museum. They have this split into the three days and then the end of the War.
 
Kendrick and I with Ranger Matt Atkinson
 
I've spent a great deal of time listening to talks on the Civil War before I came. One of the first people I heard about was Matt Atkinson. He is funny, from Mississippi and has a Masters degree in Civil War studies. You just say a word and he has a great story to share about a certain person. He is part of why the National Parks are so special. He carries our living history and shares it back with all of us as Americans. Kendrick and I went to three of his talks. We would leave laughing but struck by something he said that we would think about later.
 
I also had the privilege of getting a Licensed Battlefield Guide led by Rob Abbott who is part of the Marine Corp and now does Guides for fun. To be a Guide you must take an 8 hour test and then be in the top 20. From the top 20 they take 8 for an oral test and those that pass that get to be a Guide. So this guy knew his stuff!
 
Painting the Witness Tree at Devils Den
Always start with a little thumbnail sketch
 
When we weren't going to Ranger talks I would paint outside in the different spots at the Park. This was at Devils  Den.
 
My day starts around 5:20 a.m. so I can get up with enough time to get ready to go outside for the sunrise. I have not been disappointed yet that I got up early! Two mornings I've had mist and a beautiful golden light that runs through the fields. It is breathtaking in red and orange.
 
One of Gettysburg Sunsets that are equally great!
Right before the light went out completely.
 
I've been letting the landscape get into me by walking and walking and yes, more walking. I've seen deer, some sort of large beaver? and mice. I have also seen Living Historians (don't call them reinactors!) bivouacked in the fields and woods (I always wanted to write a sentence with the word bivouacked). If you see them just smile and nod and don't act like your from the Press.
 
 I started this painting on the location and then put the colors
in when I got back to the studio.
 
This is my way of "pushing" the feeling of a place. I have finished about three paintings but hope to get more done as I think about it less and go with more of my gut. Another reason why being here a full four weeks is really helpful for the artist.
 
 
An unassuming monument right next to the Pennsylvania Monument
 (which is the largest one in the Park) is the1st Minnesota. 
 
I came across the heroism of the 1st Minnesota in my reading of the Battle of Gettysburg. Some of you might have seen the movie based on the Shaara novel, The Killer Angels. In the movie they highlight the heroism of the 20th Maine and Col. Joshua L. Chamberlain on Little Round Top as his small regiment (most regiments had about 350 men) ran out of ammunition after pushing back several attacks and then bayonet charged Hood's Confederates keeping Little Round Top from Southern hands. I love that story!

 I also read the story of the 1st Minnesota.
 
This is what the Park Statue says:
 
"Late on the afternoon of July 2nd, after the collapse of the Union line at the Peach Orchard, Confederate infantry in front (of the sculpture) threatened to pour through a gap in the Union line here (caused by Union General Sickles arrogant blunder in moving out of the position he was ordered to stay in multiple times). When Major General Hancock, commander of the Union 2nd Corp (two to four groups of 10,000 men each) rode up to assess the situation only ONE regiment (262 men) was at hand to stop the Confederate tide. The 1st Minnesota. "My God, are these all the men we have here?" Hancock asked. It was, but they would have to do. "Charge those lines!" Shouted Hancock, and immediately the lone regiment swept down the slope with levelled bayonets, the Minnesota crashed into General Cadmus Wilcox's Alabamians who outnumbered them 4 to 1. The charge broke the Confederate ranks and stalled the Southerners long enough for the Union reinforcements to arrive. The Union line was saved but at a terrific cost. According to regimental officer of the 262 Minnesotans in the charge only 47 escaped death or injury...."
 
83% casualties. The largest casualties of any regiment in all of Gettysburg. The men knew that they were being asked to give their bodies for time to regroup the Union Army so they wouldn't be rolled up by Longstreet's wheel on the 2nd day. The Park statue says, "This charge has no parallel in any war."
 
There are the remains of the soldiers they could identify after the battle.
The Stone reads, "52 Bodies."
 
 
I wrote in my journal, "I cried at the 1st Minnesota today. They gave their lives to save the Union. What courage. No hesitation."
 
It struck me how the markers read, "52 Bodies." We do everything through our bodies. our birth, our life, our death. These maimed bodies were given a proper place to rest. To be entombed and kept bodily. There is something fitting and right in the way we bury our dead. In how we treat our bodies and each others' bodies. I see this so clearly on this battlefield. For one set of men there is honor and care. Almost tenderness. On the other is deep anger and disregard for their personal bodies. I'm not trying to make a judgment here. I'm just writing how the outcome was played out in the bodies of young men on both sides and then later in how those bodies or body parts were kept or laid bare. This war has nothing "easy" to convey about our humanity. Full of emotion and heroism and such hatred and anger too.

The tension of pain is pulled by beauty. I'm pulled at the same time by both. The landscape holds it, and me and these dead.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

"New Glory" 16x72, Oil on Canvas

"New Glory" 16x72, Oil on Canvas

This is the last piece for the upcoming show at the Nave Museum scheduled August 30 - End of September. I am so very excited to be doing a two woman show with Mary Tomas a beautiful landscape expressionist who is able to pull the viewer into nature through her color and nuance. Our show is called, "Ethereal Dialogue." Opening reception is August 30th. Curated by Dr. Jill Fox.

I will be sharing all new works having to do with nature and some pieces of landscape symbolism inspired the Civil War.


The Nave Museum

Monday, June 4, 2018

"The Union," "The South," and "Distress" 8x10 on Gessobord

"The Union" 8x10, Oil on Gessobord

One of the greatest questions that continues to be debated even today is: Why did we fight each other in the Civil War? Answers are as layered as the fighting is bloody. Many agree that the main issue was slavery and the election of Abraham Lincoln. But for the average Northerner, argues Gary Gallagher (Distinguished Prof. of History at University of Virginia), they saw Union as the main reason for fighting the war. To preserve the nation as one and intact was of most importance. It was, in Northern eyes, what the forefathers fought and died for. And remember that most Northerners had the same prejudice about African Americans as the slave holding south. In fact, in 1863 (when Emancipation became real on January 1st) most Northerners saw it as a means to "ground down" the South instead of as a way to help the African American. Although, we would love to have some of the modern sentiment about slavery that we hold today we have also lost something precious that those who lived during the war years knew all too well. The preservation of something greater than themselves: (the very lives of their sons, fathers, brothers) this Republic. As Daniel Webster, said on the Senate floor in March 1850,: “Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable.” Remember that Lincoln's party was called the Union party (2nd time running for election). Also, he did everything in his power to preserve the Union. US Grant was laid to rest in one of the most expensive tombs ever created (his funeral procession was the largest every recorded: 1 million people lined the streets of New York) Why? Because he was the man who saved the Union.

You may go HERE to read the full review of Gallagher's book.

I chose to paint the Union as a grouping of trees. It is meant to be ominous as the fighting was terrible, fierce and deeply personal. I used a slight coloring toward cool to show the North and it's "terrible swift sword."

 
"The South" 8x10, Oil on Gessobord

I think it is easier, in some sense, to answer the Southern reasons for fighting the war. They were also believers in the founding fathers (A favorite hero of Southern men was Washington himself). Southerners believed that they had the right to govern themselves in the way they saw fit (as the constitution had allowed them. The Founding Fathers were slaver holders). So, for many Southerners they didn't see succeeding as an act of treason but as an extension of being American. And in some sense, a more TRUE American.

It is hard to argue that the Southerners only fought for "states rights" when those rights are rooted in slavery. Even the poorest Southern farmer would "rent" a slave for work during harder seasons from larger slave holders. They never thought of the African American as equal to them in any way and could not fathom a world where that could be law. "By the start of the war, the South was producing 75 percent of the world’s cotton and creating more millionaires per capita in the Mississippi River valley than anywhere in the nation," writes A&E Publishers.

One of the other reasons for fighting had to do with loyalty. Once Lincoln ordered 75,000 troops after the firing on Ft. Sumter in 1861 Robert E. Lee resigned his commission to the US Military. His main reason was that he could not take up arms against his own state of Virginia. 

I chose to represent the South through it's landscape as most of the bloodiest battles were fought in Virginia and Tennessee. I also chose to show it in red as it gives the idea of a fire). It is a parched earth, pummeled by war and death.

For more on this please go HERE.

"Distress" 8x10, Oil on Gessobord

From: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.
In it, he wrote: “From my earliest recollection, I date the entertainment of a deep conviction that slavery would not always be able to hold me within its foul embrace; and in the darkest hours of my career in slavery, this living word of faith and spirit of hope departed not from me, but remained like ministering angels to cheer me through the gloom.”

It's hard to realize how recent slavery actually is in our country. In fact it started with the very first colonies to the Americas. One of the myths that we hear in our modern era is: "Slavery was a long time ago." when in fact, writes Daina Ramey Berry (Associate Professor of history and African and African diaspora studies at University of Texas at Austin. ) "African-Americans have been free in this country for less time than they were enslaved. Do the math: Blacks have been free for 152 years, which means that most Americans are only two to three generations away from slavery. This is not that long ago."

I chose to put this entire painting in shadow as we tend to not see things very clearly there. A good friend of mine pointed that out recently and I tried to share it visually. I depicted slavery as a mountain in mist and shadow. It is very dark and lonely in this space and yet there is this light of courage. I chose to use the light for the Abolitionists like Harriet Beecher Stowe, William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass himself. These voices that spoke clearly, sharply through the darkness and helped us see by their truthful light.

You can read more about Frederick Douglass HERE