Susie Linfield’s book Cruel Radiance, has me wondering how artists engage with history through the interpretation of photographs. I want to bring empathy to our viewing of photographs, which is why I have chosen certain images. When I began creating paintings from photographs, I used my parents’ posed wedding photo. The image, and my reaction to it, allowed me to unleash my conflicted feelings about their doomed relationship. Almost thirty years later, I am still dissecting photographs, and with them, often complex emotions such as guilt, shame, and sadness. My painting, Three Faces, depicts Rosa Parks, an unidentified child prisoner of the Khmer Rouge photographed before her execution, and a baby with facial paralysis. These “documentations of cruelty” (Linfield, p. 70) force viewers into conflicting positions. We are standing where their jailers, executioners, and doctors stood, yet, we are able to see them anew; to meet their gazes with love and compassion. I post the images I am working on now: in addition to Three Faces, one, tentatively titled Ex utero; the other, Surgery:

Love, empathy, and compassion

Just beginning