Sometimes the way things randomly happen provides a total jolt to one’s consciousness. This happened to me yesterday.
I had discovered a wonderfully rich new website to peruse about children in art history, and I had stumbled upon it, drawn by my lifelong fascination with American illustrator, Jessie Willcox Smith. Here was a cache of dozens of her illustrations I had never seen before – – treasures, every one.
What is the great attraction, I wondered, as I simply couldn’t stop going from one to the next. Mainly, they depict very cherished and carefully tended children: well fed, well dressed, well groomed and in lovely rooms, beautiful gardens or by the seashore.
Do they look spoiled? They most certainly do not. They look totally innocent, curious, imaginative, joyous; often deeply absorbed by their observations and discoveries, sometimes wide-eyed with astonished wonder. (I find it interesting that they only appear unhappy when they are in school.)
Ms. Smith single-mindedly dedicated her entire life to her work. I believe she had a sacred calling: to show us humanity at its very best- – such love is there on every piece of her art. “I enjoyed watching children busy with their own affairs,” she said.
But then the jolt: I was told I should Google “The Boy of Aleppo,” the little fellow caught in the crossfire of the terrible Syrian war, undoubtedly one of many. It so happens that he looks just like my darling part-Lebanese grandchild, Jack, at that age. My heart nearly stopped beating – – had it turned to lead? How unthinkable that we live in a world where any child should ever be so traumatized! May that precious little boy’s image cause all people on this troubled planet to find ways to rise far, far above their politics, religious dogmas, prejudices, hatreds, greed, and fear. It’s all about the divine child. It really is.
http://https://iamachild.wordpress.com/category/smith-jessie-willcox/ (Be patient; it takes awhile for all the images to download.)