to shield = to protect
I started painting shields without knowing that I was painting them. It was two and a half years ago, and I had been experimenting with abstraction, painting loose round and triangular shapes. One day I painted only triangles. As they took on their own irregular, elongated character, I realized I was painting shields. Just then my husband walked into the studio. He looked at my work and said, “those look like shields”. "Yes", I said, and showed him the growing stack of articles on my table.
One was about 276 Muslim school girls in Nigeria kidnapped by Boko Haram. They were forced to marry the Boko Haram fighters, and those who refused were killed. One was about Ibrahim, a 7 year old Muslim child who watched from hiding as Christian militiamen killed his parents. He ran 60 miles, barefoot and alone, until he encountered peacekeepers who pointed the way to a Catholic church that sheltered Muslims. A man on a motorcycle offered him a ride. At a militia checkpoint the man was told to pass, but to leave Ibrahim and the militiamen would kill him. The man said they would have to kill him too. So the militiamen let them both go.
Yes, I was painting shields. And I began to paint with intention… the intention to instill each one with the power of protection, the strength to endure and to heal, and perhaps even to forgive. The shields are well used, scratched and dented, recycled from former times. They are for anyone, anywhere who needs one.