|THE EYES OF A NATION|
|"THE EYES OF A NATION"
Oil on Canvas 30x40
Jeff Griggs, 2001
This painting was my way of processing the events of September 11th. It was never really meant for the pool of public opinion. However, increasingly all those who saw it had such an emotional response, that its destination became clear. This was not just my work to be stored away after my cathartic exercise was complete. This belonged to everyone and would be sent to the representative of us all - the President.
I, in no way, wanted to glorify the attack. No explosions, no burning buildings, only the billows of smoke. My purpose in this was clear. This painting is not about what was done to us, but how we, as a nation, responded. And even on the darkest of days, the light from above breaks through to illuminate those who would toil beneath searching for, helping and caring for their fellow man.
- The pair of firemen represent the very best in all of us. This courageous brotherhood of men were true heroes, who responded immediately and worked tirelessly to save the lives of thousands.
- The fireman kneeling in prayer, represents the faith of a nation and all who lost their lives in service to others. Rev. Mychal Judge lost his life, in the midst of the rubble, after removing his helmet to administer last rites to a fallen rescue worker.
- Off the President's left, we see a chain of humanity helping to pull each other from the ashes. They represent all Americans pulling together, regardless of their backgrounds, to help and support one another. Some were uniformed officers, others were office workers and civilians who selflessly responded.
- Below, we see the search continuing, even in the darkest regions, looking for any signs of life. The Urban Search and Rescue worker with his dog, along with thousands of volunteers from across America came to aid in the rescue, bringing hope and support.
- The little girl is slightly clearer than the rest. Her origin is nondescript, for we are all immigrants in America. In that respect, this was not just an attack on America, it was an attack on the world. She is our hope. She is a child, not in the ash, but in a safe place holding a quiet vigil for those lost, for those who still work and for the hope of what's to come.
- The flag is commonly represented flying left to right, as seen on the President's lapel pin, but on this day, a mighty blast from the East hurled our flag, our nation and our hearts into motion.
Finally, President George W. Bush. The positioning and expression of the President were taken from the moment where, while being interviewed in the Oval office, his eyes filled with emotion. He placed his hand on a chair for support, depicted here by a priceless antique, representing the lasting values of our nation's history. Then looking up, he said, "I am a loving guy... but I have a job to do." At that moment of strength and compassion, the eyes of the nation were upon him and that was the inspiration for this painting.