Maria Williams-Russell Art Blog
!IMAGE148!After watching a news clip about the first fallen soldier from Utah who had died in the Iraq War, Kaziah Hancock became struck by the feeling of immense loss this news must have had on the soldier's family. Although Kaziah has no children of her own, the realization of this loss overwhelmed her . Her response was to paint the fallen soldier, James W. Kelly, of Salt Lake and send the painting to his family free of charge. The experience was so powerful that Kaziah knew right away she wanted to paint as many fallen soldiers as she could for the families they left behind.
Kaziah's project began near the beginning of the Iraq War, when there were 80 soldiers killed. After nearly going broke, having put her professional art career on hold, Kaziah continues today, having founded the non-profit humanitarian organization, Project Compassion. with the help of donations and other artist volunteers. Kaziah and her volunteer artists have painted thousands of portraits and accept requests from family members daily.
!IMAGE149!As you'll see in the video, Kaziah is a passionate artist who paints the soldier portraits not just from a single photograph, but after taking the time to read letters written by the soldier, to talk to the family, and choose carefully from a lifetime of photographs. This process helps Kaziah to truly connect with the soldier she is painting. In this way, each painting is a journey that Kaziah and the other artists take, emotionally charged, but full of generous intention. The paintings are a way for the soldiers to live again not only in the hearts of their families, but through time.
No, unfortunately artists cannot stop war. But we can give our talents towards the efforts of peace.