Inspiration is everywhere
Stories and images of refugees reveal
grief, anger, courage and faith that
form the heart of “Sanctuary”.
This first of 3 new panels was inspired
by a photo from UNICEF where
an aid worker pleads for children in a crowd.
My drawing doesn’t look like the ad except for
one gesture.
I sketched that gesture, a hand held out: 
Can’t you help these little ones?
Then I constructed the hand in clay
to reach beyond the drawing.
In an earlier panel 
a man reaches beyond the ropes
in angry desperation for his own child.
Now I created a face 
(seen in the first rough sketch)
asking not for anger but compassion.
The finished panel mounted on burlap
marks the weight of coffee beans
as if these children are judged as commodities
of little value.
Behold her strength at 7 feet tall.
(A photo can’t capture her stature.)
The volume that crowns her head
and the burlap billowing her arm
combine with the cloth holding her baby
to create a richness.
It contrasts with an early panel in this series.
The subject is similar but the baby’s basket is flat
and the woman seems impersonal in her dignity.
Comparing these two works 9 months apart
shows me how much this series has evolved.
The burlap is stamped from Tanzania
and bound for New Jersey.
That’s part of this series’ perspective:
The whole world must be the sanctuary.
Maybe she’s from Syria or wherever
wires that once reinforced concrete 
litter the ground where she must escape.
These wires impale an earlier panel
as barriers to the man carrying his child.
Now the wires are open and they’ve caught
scraps of burlap from others going through.
I fashioned hands of clay to hold up her baggage.
(Here they are placed before being painted.)
She’s going to make it through.
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