Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Lost Child 2008

Three years ago, in 2008, I was at Hollins University in Virginia for a semester as an artist-in-residence. I got there in early February, and the first week I was there I got a call from my youngest daughter.  She was upset because a friend of hers from New Mexico had disappeared.  He had gone back to his college in Vermont a little early, before the winter interim was over, and was last seen by friends at the school.  After that, there was simply no trace of him. 

I was very concerned about this boy.  I didn't know him, but I identified with him in many ways.  He was  between the age of my two daughters--a year older then my youngest.  I felt  vulnerable at Hollins when I first got there, worrying that if I went for a run or a bike ride and if something were to happen to me, no one would notice, especially if it happened over a weekend.  As the weeks went by, there was not only no trace of him, there were no clues of any kind to indicate what might have happened.  His mother moved to Vermont with his younger brother to live until he was found, and a website was set up(which I followed every few days to see if anything developed or changed).  From everything I read about him, I knew I would have liked this boy. One day I did something very unlike me:  I went into the  chapel at Hollins and I prayed for him, tears streaming down my cheeks as I asked the powers that be to help find this great kid.

In March, just before spring break, I was working in my studio and "Lost Child" made itself present to me.  It literally fell into place, the pieces of paper landing, almost on their own, into this descriptive piece of a figure(an Angel?) leading a  boy somewhere.  I didnt' know if the figure leading the child was a good figure or not, and I still don't know that.  I did know, of course, that the piece was about the lost boy.  In May, after returning to New Mexico, I heard on the evening news that the boy's body had been found in a stream that ran through the school's property.  Evidently, he had fallen through the ice, drowned and then been frozen in the ice until the spring.  When I look at Lost Child now I see that the painting was giving me all the clues of what had happened: a winter landscape with what I now see is an icy pool of water, his body constructed of paddles to connect him with the drowning, and the crows and clouds witnessing his death as the Angel leads him away.

1 comment:

  1. This same story haunted us as well... and all our fellow alumni. It could have easily been any one of us. And I know how much his disappearance rocked that small student body. I can only imagine what it would have been like to be there on campus... to imagine his body under any large drift of snow. Thanks for sharing. This painting is a beautiful representation!

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