Apr 9, 2011

Brief Reflection on Second Half of Dale Year

It has been almost a year since I received the Martin A. Dale Fellowship to paint murals in shelters and centers for the poor.  At every mural site, people greet me differently.  Sometimes Alzheimers patients yell at me until they realize I was the artist who came yesterday, and the day before.  Sometimes homeless people predict my future.  On January 21st, 2011, I was asked:

"You wanna see something?"
The man who asked it was a student at Strive D.C. in Washington D.C. working hard to find a job.  Unable to think of a reason to say no, I put my brush down and said, "I guess so."
He removed his sunglasses to reveal an empty eye socket.  Then he told me he liked my mural.

Art asks many things of us, but most of all it asks us to confront ourselves.  Those who are braver, those like this man, do not hesitate to look into their souls and bare who they are to the world.  The one eye of a jobless poor man, he was trying to tell me, is more than enough to appreciate beauty.  His gesture was as powerful as it was personal.  In that odd moment of deep sharing, we were still strangers, but only by a little.

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