But it is also more than that, since as human beings, we all suffer. Sorrow is at once a very personal affair, as well as a shared human attribute. As such, it matters not what event motivated this painting. It relates to suffering for any reason, by any one. At a time when there is so much deep suffering throughout the world, I offer this image in solidarity.
I think of the works of Freda Kahlo, so well known for their naked expression of the misery she must have endured after suffering nearly fatal injuries. Her works have been hailed and admired not simply for their raw honesty, but because they inspire in us a sense of our own vulnerability, our own suffering. Moreover, they awaken that sense of courage and determination necessary to continue with our lives, no matter what the conditions that we are faced with. It is in that spirit of solidarity with the suffering of all sentient beings, that I unveil this work.
I add the anecdote that many years ago, when I was home alone one evening, surrounded by the various self-portraits that I had hanging on the walls, they began to speak to me. I was surprised to find that they were angry. “Why did you create us?”, they asked. “You will die one day, and we will go on, facing the world, while others stare back at us.” I feel now, at this time of great turmoil, that this painting is ready to stand up and play its part. It is ready to deliver the message that when you cry, I cry with you.