Allow me to preface this with a few thoughts; The contents of this post underwent much debate in my mind. The story behind this painting deals with very personal experiences. I asked myself over and over; should I share this?
My emotions, experiences play a pivotal role in my work and many times are not fully realized until after I am finished. Pondering the motivations behind this painting leads me to feel that without telling this story the painting will be incomplete.
One afternoon last month I was sitting in my car stuck in traffic when I was first introduced to Lady Sovereign.
Flipping thru the radio stations, I tuned into NPR (National Public Radio). They had just began a interview and biography of the Lady SOV. My interest peaked immediately, so much so that I quickly stopped slouching and turned up the volume. In the interview I heard a laid back individual who makes her own choices regardless of the opinions or pressures around her. Representative of her name : Sovereign.
Self-governing; independent, freedom from external control.
Over the years I’ve learned to trust my creative instinct without question, so when the interview was over I knew the compelling desire to paint her would be eventually realized. I had no idea what she looked like at the time I heard the radio show but that mattered little.
You can hear the full interview here; NPR inteviews Lady Sovereign
Now a month later and I still had not started the painting. It was in the back of my mind but many other things were in the forefront.
It was mid afternoon, the sun beat down with fervor and the air was thick with moisture from the rain earlier in the day. I was upset about something very trivial when I noticed I had a new text message. Momentarily, my mood elevated as I saw that it was from my close childhood friend. The text message read as follows;
“They found “Fro” dead in jail. let u know when they fly him home.”
Pure shock. Life hits you and most often when least expect it.
“Fro” is my friend from back in my high school days. Fro was his nickname; ironic as he always had a shaved head. He and I all hung out with our close group of friends that skateboarded. He was a pretty good skater and a awesome comedian. Great sense of random humor that never failed to get us all laughing uncontrollably. After graduating from high school we all still met up to skate and hang out but noticeably less.
Then one day I hear the news Fro had left. No word on where, exactly when or how. Just that he went on his own accord. POOF. Gone.
Which brings me back to the moment last week when I read the text that informed me of his passing. I sat there and remember hearing the silence around me. A few minutes later I called my friend and he informed me that Fro died of kidney failure due to withdrawal symptoms while locked in a jail cell up in Seattle, Washington. That’s all he knew.
I immediately went home and began painting SOVEREIGNTY. Deep in melancholy my thoughts wandered over questions that I will never know the answers to.
What happened to him all these years?
Why did this happen to him?
How did he get to be on the other side of the country?
These thoughts lead to a self analysis of my own actions those years he was gone. I saw a gradual stairway thoughtful my life as I search for meaning and independence. By the time I finished this painting I furthered my resolve to continue my quest for these things.