King’s Reaching Out in Solidarity on display

MORRISBURG – It has been impossible for some weeks now to turn on the news, or to look at a newspaper, without being deeply affected by the horrors of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

For Iroquois artist Brenda King, the barrage of images coming from that war-torn nation, has provoked a strong response. She has created a series of deeply personal paintings called Reaching Out in Solidarity, currently on display at the SDG Library’s Morrisburg branch.

“The theme of reaching out in solidarity has a very strong emotional pull for me,” Brenda King explained during an April 20th interview with The Leader. “Looking at those images coming from the Ukraine, I think we have all asked ourselves, what can we do? And the truth is that social commentary has always been part of an artist’s way of telling a story. It is a role that all artists – painters, musicians, dancers, actors – all of us take very seriously.” The emotions in Brenda King’s art, the simple humanity, reaches out to affect viewers.

Brenda began work on the five paintings in the display (“a sixth is still on my easel”) in February of 2022, right after the Russian invasion. Her first piece was of two Ukrainian teenagers. “That work was inspired by a picture that ran in the Ottawa Citizen,” Brenda said. “Here were these two kids, volunteering after the bombing of Kyiv, planning to go into the devastation, yet so proud to be making a contribution, to be helping to save their country. That image moved me deeply. Those kids should be going to school, planning a prom, not fighting just to stay alive.

Sometimes, now, I find myself wondering where those two teenagers are.”

Other works soon followed. “The paintings are largely black and white, because they were inspired by newspaper photos. This is part of the nature of a commentary. The blue and yellow of the Ukrainian flag is superimposed behind and around the figures.”

“Each of the paintings has an individual title,” Brenda said. “However, they are really about the whole, rather than single pieces. My theme, Reaching Out in Solidarity, is taken from an Anglican prayer, a prayer that the church has been making during weekly vigils, and on every Sunday, since the War began.”

She said that the Library “has been terrific in its support for this exhibit. The public can see the paintings without charge in the Library.” “The SD&G Library is always happy to support local artists in our community,” said Stacey Piticco, Library Services Assistant. “We have had wonderful feedback regarding Brenda’s artworks and her initiatives from our local patrons.”

Brenda has decided to offer her paintings freely to schools, churches, organizations and homes for display. Each of the six works has been sturdily mounted, and the entire group is easily transportable. Her hope is that the works will promote discussions, perhaps generate support for the Ukraine.

As a former educator, Brenda would be happy to see the paintings of Reaching Out in Solidarity loaned to area schools. Small groups of students would also be welcome to come to the Library where the artist herself would be glad to lead discussions and answer questions. The arts are vital in the lives of young people and in the future of society.

“I think, I hope, the paintings could trigger classroom discussions, and creative writing or art projects among young people,” said King.

Since you’re here…

… Thanks for reading this article. Local news is important. We hope that you continue to support local news by reading The Leader, online and in print. Please consider subscribing to the print edition of the newspaper. Click here to subscribe today.