hode Island Monthly recently asked me to do a piece on Social Workers who help youth. The article discussed their frustration with the system and politics in general. The failures that occur are at the expense of the kids' mental and physical safety. The field of social work was described as a battlefield. The social worker is often the only positive adult role model for these youth who face poverty and parental abuse on a daily basis.
I set out to portray exactly what was described in the article: The social worker must traverse a battlefield of politics, physical violence and economic hardship, and lift up disadvantaged youth from absolute chaos.
The first image that came to mind was Henri Rousseau's, "War. It Passes, Terrifying, leaving Despair, Tears and Ruin Everywhere." This imagery, figure with horse floating above the remains of war, has been used by many different artists from medieval to modern. My take on the piece is perhaps a reinterpretation of its original context. I like how the floating figure has been removed from the bottom layer of chaos to safety. The horse and sword add an element of personal strength which is also key to the social worker and the kids.
This was the starting point for my sketch. The image below is what I sent to the magazine. Dean at RI Monthly liked the direction so, we went right to final.
Thank you Dean, for the great assignment.