Friday, November 20, 2015

Both of Their Hearts

This is an update post on something I shared half a year ago - Thesis on Sanctity of Human Life.

You may remember that an art student at Appalachian State University contacted me in the spring, after reading something I wrote, about including Lily and Luke in her senior honors thesis on the sanctity of human life. We met at a coffee shop and I shared my heart and my babies with her.

This is the 18x24” portrait she created of Lily and Luke. When she sent it to me, she wrote, "I looked up the real size for a child at six weeks gestation, so little Luke is the small shape by Lily’s chest. I loved what you said about their two hearts starting and stopping their beating in the same place, so I called the piece Both of Their Hearts." Isn't that so touching and beautiful?? :'-)


When she shared it on her Instagram, she wrote something so sweet: "Easily my favorite Humanitās portrait so far. Both of Their Hearts features siblings Luke Shiloh and Lily Katherine, children of Hannah Rose, both of whom tragically died in utero. Luke and Lily, your lives had meaning and purpose, and I will continue to speak for you and children like you."

Originally, the final product was to be "an exhibition of portraits of people of different ages, appearances, and abilities." The unborn were one part of the project.

However, Elizabeth emailed me and wrote, "My show actually ended up taking a different turn after the first critique. It became clear that babies were the ones I really wanted to focus on, rather than people as a whole, and the pieces I’m going to use for my senior show are a set of three monumental paintings, each with a tiny little figure modeled after eighteen weeks gestational age. I felt so passionately about their portrait, Lily and Luke ended up being the catalysts for an entire body of work."

She ended up going large scale for the final pieces and the one of Lily and Luke would have been too small to include in the show.

I am so honored that Elizabeth wanted to include my two precious babies in this and that they inspired her. I am one proud mommy. :) Elizabeth is a gifted artist and it is a blessing to me to see her heart for the unborn.

She invited me to the show in Boone, NC in December, saying, "If you're available, I would love for you to come see the work that your sweet children inspired. Thank you for letting your babies be a part of this incredible journey."

My mom and I are hoping to make the trip (it's only a few hours) to spend a couple days in the mountains and see what Lily and Luke inspired.

Elizabeth and I when we met in May

This is Elizabeth's Artist Statement for the show that explains her heart behind it (I LOVE what she wrote!):

Humanitās
“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” 
So wrote George Orwell in his political satire, Animal Farm. Those words fascinated me from the time I first read the book in the seventh grade. Since then, they have echoed in my head with every news story of murder and genocide, every history lesson about apartheid or the Holocaust, and every time one of my peers was made to feel small. It seems that Orwell hit our hubris directly on point. All the hot-button issues that we read about in headline after study after heartfelt open letter, racism, sexism, religious persecution, nationalism, ageism, ableism – all of them point to the idea that we, all of us, for one reason or another, feel that we are more human than somebody else. 
It is now commonly agreed upon that people of different colors are persons, that those of us born female instead of male are persons, that people who speak with an accent are persons. People who object to this are reviled by society, and are rightly seen as deviant, wrong, and outside the norm. What is truly disturbing is that there are still groups whose personhood is an open question. There are still people whose humanity is in contest, and people on the sides of the debate are widely respected. In fact, people on the ‘no’ side are actually renowned for the efforts towards equal rights, in complete ignorance of the humans who have been trampled in the name of that fight. 
I speak, of course, of those among us who have not yet been born. Under the banner of women’s rights, children in the womb have been degraded to the status of a disease, an inconvenience, and outright parasites. These ‘blobs of tissue’, in spite of their beating hearts, unique genetic makeup, and their capability to think, learn, and feel pain, are still widely considered to be subhuman, or at least humans of an inferior nature to born people, certainly inferior to adults and the women who carry them. 
Isn’t that a familiar cry – inferior? Haven’t we heard it before? Weren’t Romans told that Celts were inferior? Didn’t Europeans reassure one another of the inferiority of Africans? Did not the Hutus say it of the Tutsis, and the Nazis of the Jews? With a full third of my generation having been denied the right to their very lives, how can we argue that they were not the victims of genocide, like the Celts and the Africans and the Tutsis and the Jews before them? 
This series is for the little ones, who cannot speak for themselves. Using art historical reference to acts that have long been accepted as wrong (crucifixion, starvation, lynching), I am challenging the worn-out argument that this time, it’s different. Some of us cannot be more equal. All humans are persons, and it’s time to put an end to qualifying addendum's.

You can connect with Elizabeth and check out more of her work here:

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