Kind Promise: I will share strengths.

I wanted to make some art about strength. My mind was casting about for images. What says strength to me? I remembered Rocky on the top of the stairs, Georgia O’Keeffe’s wrinkled face, a tree I saw that had grown around a piece of barbed wire. I settled (in my mind) on the image of a woman raising her arms in praise. It’s challenging for me to draw people, so I searched for a photograph to use as a reference. I was worried about getting the hands right, so I did some searches of close-ups of hands. I found a photograph of a bird perched on a woman’s hand and knew I wanted to work with it.

electronic illustration

The image taught me surprising things about strength.

  • Trees stand on the edge (a riverbank?), leaning but rooted securely. Strength requires nourishment. Strength takes risks but remains rooted.
  • The bird perches on an open hand, one foot wrapped around its host’s finger. Such a fragile being, this bird, but it chooses, in this moment, to share its life with someone very unlike it. Strength is not afraid of delicacy; it’s not afraid of what’s different.
  • When I think of strong hands I think of a grip or a fist. Like this hand, strength is open, steady, supporting.

These two months exploring weakness and strength have encouraged me to throw those distinctions away. Every subject in this image embodiesboth weakness and strength. So do I. So do you.