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"A Field of Sorrow"
acrylic and collage elements on canvas, 81" X 120", 2003

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The following statement was written in March of 2003:

I completed this painting during this past month of imminent war. The scene is outside a destroyed Afghani village. The landscape depicted was created with a digitally modified and enlarged newspaper photo. That it is specifically Afghanistan is not of paramount importance. That it shows a field of war, as we have learned to visualize it from newspaper photos or television images over the past year and a half--that expansive desert landscape that stretches from Central Asia to the Middle East--is important. That landscape is embedded in our imagination, and it is there that the drama--or tragedy--of our current war, and our future, is being played out.

The distressed looking figure with arms outstretched in supplication speaks to an angry bat. For me the bat is the madness and fear darkening our world, and all of its attendant causes and conditions: the impatience with diplomacy, boundless hatred and fear of enemies, thirst for revenge, the myopia of fundamentalisms whether of religions, politics, or economics, sanctimonious bellicosity. The bat is like a compact nuclear missile winging wildly above the earth, and the kneeling figure is everyone who sees the threat and despairs.

I wanted the painting to have the impact of a sacred encounter. When I imagined the kneeling figure speaking to a bat I thought of Simone Martini's painting of the Annunciation in the Uffizi Gallery, and so added golden words to my picture: "Come home dark angel, leave the world in peace, find succor in my weary heart." We must know that this madness that afflicts us--now manifest in an ill-considered war for which the consequences may be very different from the democracy-engendering pie in the sky scenario its advocates would have us believe--arises ultimately from the human heart, and a lack of human understanding and empathy. The kneeling, beaten down supplicant displays an act of true compassion (not the politically expedient compassion glibly invoked by our leaders) calling the madness home so that the world may once again flourish.

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