"The Dream Keepers"
Following the events of September 11th, I lost my desire to paint. However, I realized my responsibility and decided to fight back with a brush of the American spirit and my palette.
Illustrator Norman Rockwell painted illustrations that became a comfort to weary Americans following WW II. In the same light, I wanted to encourage today's generation during this tragic time. A blank canvas sat before me for a very long time as I contemplated what the heart of the message would be.
I chose... Faith and Freedom.
To illustrate freedom, I drew a rectangle symbolizing the shape of the American flag. Representing “faith” I drew the symbol of a cross to intersect the stars, ( the states). Bringing the cross to life, I used light and shadows from a side window. Light is a symbol of faith and represents hope and truth. Wasn’t September 11th a battle between darkness and light I asked President Bush years later in the Oval Office?
There are seven children representing the seven continents; Biblically seven is considered the perfect number.
But it was a bystander that pointed out the bloodstained hand print on the finished painting as I was showing it to my mother and aunt on the Town Green in our hometown. He saw what we did not; a red hand print at the foot of the cross created by the footprints of the children.
My husband and I had the opportunity to visit Ground Zero months later and a policeman, hearing our story, took us inside the barricade to see and meet the REAL Dream Keepers. The destruction inside formed a mountain range of devastation. Yet the mood and attitude of these volunteers revealed a unity, strength, and hope greater than the mountains of rubble.
I felt that my painting was coming to life! Just like the children in my painting, my husband and I witnessed adults- of all different backgrounds- united and working side by side. They reflected a child-like hope and became united in their efforts; painting for us a picture of the American spirit.
Some say our innocence is forever lost; we will never be the same. Maybe so. However, painted in my memory are the young men and women, working together among the rubble, refusing defeat. Their example invites all of us, young and old, to join the children and offer our own hand prints as a testament of our faith and freedom.
"The Dream Keepers"
40 x 30 dry pastel and watercolor on museum rag board
The original painting is in the
George W. Bush Library