These Works of Art

I found this the other day. Well, truthfully someone else found it and mentioned it on Facebook and I had to see it. You can see the larger piece below.

You see, Kaelan (whose name is the middle of the palm) was my great nephew. He ended his life in 2016. Among his many talents, he was an artist. He did not inherit this from me. He, his mom Sara, and other family members sucked up all the artistic talent allotted for my family, and I was left with nothing. Which is fine. I never could color in the lines….and attempts outside are no better. But I appreciate beauty more than most, so I’ll take that.

He and some other artistic friends loved graffiti. The city/small town we live in does not, for the most part. Even though some of our local graffiti artists are absolutely amazing and create beautiful public art in places that could use a bit of color. Graffiti that has not been approved in advance by our city council, is painted over. Even if it is beautiful and most people love it. Even if the building owner likes it and wants it to stay. That’s called an ordinance and it must be adhered to. I’m not saying I disagree totally with the concept. Yes, I understand they don’t want to encourage lots of ugly, bad graffiti where the property of owners is defaced without their consent and to their dismay….me either. But personally I believe there are a lot of ugly walls around town that could be improved. Especially on empty buildings that we simply watch deteriorate. Maybe an “Artists….paint your art here” sign would help things and add color to our community that means something.

When Kaelan died my niece Sara, his mom, would get messages telling her to check out specific areas around our city and the state….or she would get sent pictures….showing beautiful examples of graffiti created in tribute to him. The one below is his name, surrounded by his signature “Zeal”, with the words “Rest in Paradise”. This was one of my favorites, though I never saw it in person. It, like many others, has now been covered up. I’m glad someone took this picture. (I stole the picture a long time ago. I’ll give photo credit if the one who took it lets me know it was them.)

We live in a world that is quite “zealous” about covering up the problem of suicide. Oh, it’s getting better….because people are simply tired of pretending it’s not happening. Still, we’re not confronting the problem head on. We’re still trying to whitewash the bloodshed and erase people….and their problems… from memory.

But the art of this world. God is such a magnificent artist. Look around you. Look around our country, look around our world. Exquisite views everywhere. But we humans are something special. So often we don’t appreciate the art we are…or see it in others.

Scripture speaks of God as the potter of our creation….looking at the shapes and sizes and angles and the amazing differences between us all both stuns and thrills me. Think outside of your “high art” mind for a minute and look at the bodies around you. Then think of your own. They are a sight to behold. I appreciate them all. Take it a bit further and notice the colors and tones and dimension and shadows and details such as dimples and pimples and wrinkles and the curves of smiles and the sparkle of eyes. We are absolutely awe-inspiring. Yes, you are a part of that “we”. A precious gem created by a master artist.

I’m a lover of folk art. My friend Regina and I happened upon a small gallery in Virginia one day and met this glorious ebullient artist. I purchased one of her pieces….that she made using a small filter (similar to that one you should be changing regularly in your heating vents.) I loved she repurposed such a thing. Others may not see the value, and would turn up their nose at it, but I treasure it more than I would value what many others would describe as “great works of art.” This is great art to me. It makes me smile and warms my heart. I see people flying kites. I imagine the thrill of getting that kite in the air. I think of how pretty they would be flying, some with glitter that glimmers in the sunlight. It reminds me of a good day. A great memory.

Some of us are high art and some of us are folk art and some of us are graffiti and some are all. All are relevant and of great beauty and value. I am sometimes amazed at the prices people pay for certain works of art. It seems so random. Some I get, others leave me scratching my head. Some actually make me giggle. But to someone, their cost is the perfect value for something they see as beautiful and valuable. Or think others do.

My great nephew didn’t recognize his great value to this world. Not because he wasn’t valued and loved and cherished…and knew it. He didn’t value his own worth. He didn’t realize just how amazing his life could be as he continued to share his beauty with those who appreciated it so much. He didn’t realize those moments of pain and lack of self-worth do not last….and that help was so close.

If you suffer from those kind of feelings, I pray you will keep on going. I pray your eyes will be opened and you will not only be awed by your own value and beauty, but you will want to share it with the world. One thing about depression….it distorts your view. So do drugs and alcohol and other substances that are not appropriately used. They are rotten, dirty jealous liars and are trying to keep you from seeing the truth and beauty in yourself. They are trying to destroy you.

Get help from people who know what they are doing. If the first person doesn’t help you, keep trying until you find someone who can. I know it is tiring. Take one step more.

Those who know you and like you and love you may not know what to do to help. They may say stupid things or fail to do anything because they are paralyzed by fear. They may nag. They may threaten. They are human. They come with their own issues.

If they’re not helping, look elsewhere for someone to help. Recognize that others who are currently struggling with the same things you are, or something similar, even though they may understand the pain… they may not be the best ones to align with right now. Find the best mental health professional you can find and listen to them. Ask questions. Work with them and not against them. Try the medications they suggest, understand how they are supposed to help, and then pay attention to what these medications do to you. Tell those around you to pay attention, too. (You may not notice the negatives and changes in your behavior yourself.) If you don’t feel quite right tell those people…and tell your doctors. Build a team to surround you. This is a battle. You can’t watch all fronts on your own 24/7 and you may grow weary…that’s when having an army helps.

I love the talented graffiti artists that continue to pay tribute to my nephew. While I would prefer the real living, breathing person to a memorial, this is what is left. It warms my heart and while I will ask you to do it in “appropriate” places and not to do anything that would get you in trouble, personally I hope you don’t stop. He is worth remembering. Even not knowing you, I love your heart and your art and how you use both. You make me smile. And sometimes cry. But in a good way.

I feel with every fiber of my being that if Kaelan would have kept going and lived another day, that episode would have passed and he would have eventually created a plan and found his way to happy. All signs pointed to him being able to have not just a good life, but a glorious life.

While we can’t bring him back, I can beg those of you who are struggling to stay. Hang in there. Don’t just fight for OK….fight for amazing. Because you are important. You were created for a reason and a purpose, and still need to fulfill it. And we desperately need you. You are like that very precious piece of art someone has been searching for the world over….and will treasure forever when they find it.

Don’t paint over over the beauty that is you. Share the art with the world. Stay.

(Note….feel free to tell your stories, share your art, or offer encouragement to those who are struggling in the comments.)

6 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing about your nephew and his art. I lost my sister to suicide, so I have some understanding of this issue. Suicide definitely needs to be talked about more openly. I do think it is slowly losing some of the stigma that surrounds it.

    Liked by 1 person

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