Fragments of Peace
Glass on newspaper, on an acrylic painting, on foam board
After the Beslan School hostage crisis in the North Caucasus of the Russian Federation, on their first day of school, terrorists killing children and their family members, my college students and I made peace with our helpless grief, by gluing newspaper articles and glass to one of my paintings. We had no idea that our outcome would resemble Mother Earth.
This piece actually began thirty years ago when I was inclined to paint spirits swirling in the heavens. I never felt like it was completed. I've moved probably at least ten times since painting the acrylics on foam board. Yet, it traveled with me. When the bombing took place in the Russian elementary school, I found myself climbing my stairs to the attic to retireve this unfulfilled piece. As my students and I read the Time magazine together, we took to heart the tragedy of this world event. Together, we envisioned the heavenly spirits lifting our hearts to be with those who suffered.
As we collected images, we paid tribute to a young girl who became our hero as she escaped from the terrorists, only to return to be with her younger sister. In the fragments of glass we found Peace to share with the viewer.
Excerpt from The Daimon:
April 5, 2010 Elisabeth wrote in her journal:
I dreamt that out of self-defense I was trying to kill a Bolshevik by slinging a pick axe at him. He started the violent exchange by throwing it at me. When swinging back, I could feel the axe hook into his scalp and then fall away. He would pick it up and throw it at me with great force. Luckily I would dodge the axe. When I tried to throw it, although my strength was lacking, I continued to nick his bald head. Each time I could feel the contact with his skull, it sickened me. He seemed to be weakening but when I stooped to pick up the axe for another swing, he disappeared. In my dream, I was fearful of this man pursuing me and I felt the need to defend myself. Now, as I write the dream, I realize that it was my engagement that fostered the violence. How many times do I swing the axe instead of holding it and walking away?
April 7, 2010
A third grader went on a rampage today in my class. I found myself swinging the axe.
No one won.
Sometimes when Daddy walked across the yard carrying buckets of grain to feed the cows, he hauled the weight of the world with him. His feet felt the cadence of an earlier time when buffalo roamed the Prairie. With the urgency of a stampede, despair welled up inside. Daddy had moved his family from western Kansas to eastern Colorado in search of a better life. Instead he found desolation that had taken root during The Dust Bowl. The on-going drought for the past two decades had parched the pastures and made them barren. Crops were sparse. It was Daddy’s pride that kept him going in spite of his guilt.