Dale Fairbanks: January 2013
I confess. I do paint flowers, but flowers that are of my own creation, my egocentric design, my choice of unexpected colors. In the past year, however, I caved and joined the ranks of many an artist, hobbyist and master, unable to resist the lure of the exquisite Helianthus annuus, the Sunflower.
This vibrant sun worshipper follows the track of the Sun god from east to west across the sky, turning ever so slowly, keeping the rays warm on her face . . . as she was anointed to do.
In the year 2004, Hurricane Ivan devastated the Gulf Coast of the Florida Panhandle and became the harbinger of fierce storms yet to come. The Sunflower, bold and brilliant gold, was the first of us to rise up out of the putrid muck left in our yard and under the shell of our house. Her grace as she reached for the sun made us remember the good, the beautiful; she reminded us to reach as well and lift our faces to the glory still shining, still in place, still celebrating life.
A year later in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the floodwaters withdrew, and again out of fecal and contaminated mud arose the indomitable Sunflower stretching to the sun, resurrecting hope and determination in a city destroyed and broken.
The explanation for such a sight can be logical — scattered seeds carried across the city from a thousand birdfeeders in a thousand back yards — but the fields of wild yellow in a destitute environment spoke to me in a different way. The Sunflower became the silenced voice of the unidentified and unburied dead. The Sunflower became the voice of the abandoned, the helpless, the forgotten. In the pride of its high-held yellow head, I heard the voice of the separated and discarded, the voice of thousands who departed their only known home for faraway places . . . some never to return.
Pick Me, Pick Me is an oil on canvas painting, 36 inches by 48 inches. It records for me the outreached hands of the newly overwhelmed and devastated homeless, begging to be noticed, leaning toward the light . . . see me.
Pick Me, Pick Me
©Dale Fairbanks Oil on canvas 36" x 48"
Photography by Gary Langhammer Studio