We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth.”
~ John F. Kennedy
As the year winds down, many of us search for optimism, something beyond the material. Our spirit isn’t connected to towers of power or the intoxicating rush from celebrities. Faith harkens to our better angels, who, when you feel their presence, manifest joy, comforting us with something we may not always understand but we seem to know.
|"Welcome to America"|
America is a beacon of good to the world. The statements affirming our natural rights penned in the Declaration of Independence may be difficult to recite, but we know they are meant for all of us. Nothing sends more chills to a visitor to New York City that the majesty and beauty of the Statue of Liberty. This is our wondrous work of art that broadcasts to the universe that there is a refuge where hope reigns and optimism will survive.
All these thoughts and a few more came to the forefront when I first saw “Welcome to America,” Olivia Thomason’s timely and magnificent work. This is what the late Dr. Joe Perrin, then the Dean of Georgia State University's College of Art meant when he predicted that the artist would be “a genuine force, a clarion for important matters connected to the heart and soul.”
“The Statue of Liberty,” said Ms. Thomason, “affects me like I imagine it does the millions who have viewed it. It says everything I need to know about my country’s goodness.” The passengers in the imaginary boats depicted in the painting, she added, “are all God’s children. No favorites. Our welcome mat is out and you’re free here to follow your dreams.”
“Welcome to America” is set in an era in the early 20th Century, but it could be anytime, particularly now. It inspires, it honors and yes, it brims with hope and optimism. Each time I view it, Matthew 25: 35 come to mind:
“ For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.
|The Stone Mountain Historic Village Mural|
“Welcome to America” seems destined for a person or company dedicated to the greater good. That would be in keeping with much of Olivia Thomason’s work which includes paintings of Poet Laureate Carl Sandburg’s farm “Connemara” in Flat Rock, North Carolina and her mural, an inclusive community project that proudly stands on a beautiful pavilion overlooking Stone Mountain Historic Village.
More information: Olivia Thomason, firstname.lastname@example.org.