United We Stand

Medium:  Original oil on archival gallery wrap canvas
Size: 30″ x 40″

I was inspired by the images of the children’s crusade and wanted to express the energy and struggle the children endured to keep standing by clinging together as a determined group despite the high power blasts of the fire hoses. Rendered in oil on canvas, I used more of an impressionistic approach to keep the identities of the children vague so more focus is on the emotion of the event. This event actually took place in front of a row of buildings on a city street. At first, I had the buildings behind the group but it seemed to diminish the power of the emotion I wanted to create. So I took them out and placed the group in a wooded isolated scene. I wanted to create a feeling of isolation, that there was no help for them and the event was dire and they had to rely on each other to remain upright. The trees created more of an atmosphere of a place where lynching happens or the isolation of jail cell bars.This painting represents the unity needed to succeed and without unity we are bound to fail.

Description

The Children’s Crusade: Taking a Stand for Social Justice

“The Children’s Crusade” tells the story of how the young people of Birmingham, Alabama, braved fire hoses and police dogs in 1963 and brought segregation to its knees.

On May 2, over 1,000 African-American children marched in the Children’s Crusade. They were sprayed with water from high-power hoses that could blast off clothing, and were also attacked by dogs. By the end of the first day the police had arrested over 900 boys and girls. Images of the attacks were shown on national television and in newspapers. Those pictures conveyed powerful messages, and many Americans were horrified by what they saw.

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