Friday, November 30, 2007

Featured Artist: Eleanor Gilpatrick

In The World One: Basra and Amagansett
© 2007 Eleanor Gilpatrick

Like many of us in the creative life, world events have caused Eleanor Gilpatrick to use her artistic tools to try and make sense of the chaos and violence she's watching unfold. Her series of paintings, entitled, "In the World", studies the Iraqi war, and other terrifying events, in a very unusual way. The paintings juxtapose serene scenes of American life with those of terror and loss in Iraqi, and other places in turmoil. The contrast of daily life within our two cultures is startling.

Other than the families of soldiers, and a great deal of the public fortune, most of us Americans have sacrificed little for Bush's war. There is no military draft, (so most of our children are safely off at college or working) no one needs to grow Victory Gardens as the supermarkets are bursting with food, and we haven't even had to give up driving our enormous gas-guzzling cars. Tragically, war has been made easy, and long-term. It's simply business and we need to make sure it doesn't continue "as usual."

Regarding "In The World One: Basra and Amagansett" Eleanor says:
"This is the first in a new series, "In The World," in which I express my feeling about beauty and terror in the world. For In The World One I acknowledge permission to use a news photo by Atef Hassan, courtesy of Reuters, as a model for the Basra figures in the painting. They are Shiite militia members, July 16, 2007."

In The World Two: Sangin and Montauk
© 2007 Eleanor Gilpatrick
"This is a British soldier on foot patrol in Sangin, Afghanistan. The model for the figure is a press photo by Joao Silva. The sunset was in Montauk, New York."

In The World Three: Sadr City and East Hampton
© 2007 Eleanor Gilpatrick
"This contrasts a woman leading her son past a tent destroyed by a military raid in Sadr City (Baghdad) Iraq with women on the beach in East Hampton, NY. The Iraqi figures are based on a photo by Karim Kadim. The rest was reworked from a painting originally titled April Beach I."

In The World Four: Baghdad and Montauk
© 2007 Eleanor Gilpatrick
"In August, 2007, bombs killed people in Baghdad. A mother followed a health worker carrying her child....The woman in this painting is based on a photo by Karim Kadim; the rocks, ship, and sunset were in Montauk, August 2007."

Eleanor says,
"I found that coming back to my first love, painting, made me younger -- and without the angst of youth. But I was surprised that what I was moved to paint did not seem to be political (and I had been political), but instead were affirmations of life and a celebration of beauty. I saw that this could be a statement in and of itself; but now, the beauty I paint, which challenges the tawdry, ugly, and grotesque, is being contrasted with the "terrible" in the real world of our time. People have had various responses to the series, and I was asked, "What do you want the viewer to feel?" At first I didn't know except I was moved to do this. But, as the work began to transform me, I realized that what I want to offer is connection."

Perhaps the way to end this terrible war, and to prevent more like it (with Iran for instance) is to seek out a connection with the people our government is waging war against. I suspect the average Iraqi woman, or man, is just like you and me. They want shelter, safety, warmth, love. They want their families around them, they want work to do, they want to have their lives mean something in the greater expanse of human history. They're people just like us, yet we buy into the demonization of their culture and allow their world to be destroyed. And for what?

Please respect the work of the artists you see here and be sure to credit them when you share their artwork with others.

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