Friday, June 17, 2016

Visual Art Journal Entries and the March of History

I have been keeping a journal of some sort all of my adult life.  When historic events happen, I want to make a record.

Last week, I wrote about Hillary Clinton's historic campaign, both in blog posts and in a poem.  On Friday, I thought about my visual journal, as I'm calling it, and decided I wanted to make a record.  I started with this:

My spouse added the Trump element.  I got tired of drawing each x, and I decided to start over.  I came up with this:

Is it still a work in progress?  I'm not sure.  I was surprised by how few female political leaders I could name.  I didn't do any searching.  And Esther wasn't exactly a political leader, but I had her on the brain so I put her name down. I thought about doing something more with the background.

Monday night I wanted to do something to commemorate the shooting in Orlando, something that might be hopeful, despite the horror.  I'm old enough to remember when this kind of massacre would not have inspired this outpouring of grief and support for the victims and families.  In fact, in a story on NPR this morning, a reporter (who wrote this story on Slate) reminds us about a 1973 fire in New Orleans, a crime left unsolved, with 30 deaths, which inspired ugly comments about "fruits" on right wing radio.  The fact that so many have responded with dignity, compassion, and grief in the face of this horror--I'm finding that a hopeful sign that our society is changing for the better.

I don't have a work in progress shot of what I drew.  Here's the finished product:

I drew the gray lines because I thought it looked too festive, too birthday like without them.  I had thought that I would draw 50 lights in various colors around the candle to represent ascending souls of every person killed, but I drew too many before I started counting.  I thought about including the wounded, but I didn't want to stop drawing to look up how many had been wounded.

And so I drew the gray swirls, which represented the smoke that might come from that much gunfire, the smoke from the police response, the way that we can lose our lives so quickly--our lives are like a puff of smoke, here and then a faint whisp and then nothing.

Nothing but the memories that others have, the art we leave behind, the humans we've inspired, the family members, the way we've moved the world away from evil and towards good.

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