The following piece was intended as my ArtPrize entry for 2020. However, since the COVID-19 pandemic led to ArtPrize's cancelation, I am releasing it here on my blog instead.
Can hope hurt? In 2017, I joined my sister at an ultrasound. It was her first baby, our family's first grandkid. But excitement became tragedy on discovering the baby had died in utero. One in five pregnancies end in miscarriage. Yet this subject remains taboo, and many mothers grieve their hoped-for babies in isolation. At that time, my choir sang a version of Emily Dickinson's poem, "Hope Is the Thing with Feathers," and I suddenly struggled with Dickinson's words. They seemed overly-optimistic, failing to acknowledge realities, like severe depression, that can accompany dashed dreams. So I wrote my own poem, an argument to hers, and expressed it against a whimsical graveyard scene. I didn't finish this illustration until 2020, when my same sister faced another pregnancy, this time amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, the poem and picture seem eerily appropriate as the world struggles to adapt and adjust expectations. May we all find healthy ways to grieve and hope again.