November 3, 2009

Youth art for Iranian prisoners

Last week I tossed out the idea that the youth should really do something to contribute to the Birth of Baha'u'llah celebration. They groaned. Then I got a little more specific. Let's do a painting. Ooh, let's do a painting in honor of the Baha'i prisoners in Iran. Oh, and let's auction it off after the holy day and give the money to an organization that works for religious freedoms. I waited for more groans, but everyone said, "Okay." Barb asked if they understood what I was proposing. We rehashed it once more and everyone was on board.

I brought a short bio of each of the prisoners and each of the youth chose one. We went with a take on Baha'u'llah's father's dream with the fish (alright, Eugene laughing at my obvious obsession with turning that particular image into art. Okay?) and decided that we would each paint a fish that in some way represents the prisoner that we chose. I committed to getting the canvas, painting the background, and leaving empty fish for each of them to paint.

Seriously, I lost sleep over this one. I was just so excited that these guys were doing something so cool, even if it was just to get out of more Ruhi at our next meeting. I decided that the canvas had to look awesome when I got there so that they would get as excited about it as I am. I have painted every spare second that I have had. My kids gather around with great interest and make their own versions of the painting at their desks with water colors and markers every time I sit down to paint. Hannah Jane even made a little reproduction of it and said, "This is for you because I know you'll be sad to let that painting go." How sweet is that? But I won't be the least bit sad. This is a cool project!

I was telling an acquaintance about our upcoming project at a home school gathering and she said, "That's cool! You should call the newspaper." I thought about it and decided, maybe they would like a piece like this. We sure could use a conversation starter like that in this town to get the Baha'i ball rolling. So I typed up an AP style press release and sent it out. Then I checked my e-mail way too much for several days before I decided that there was no interest in the story. Today, long after I had given up on the idea, my phone rang and it was a reporter. She asked if she could come and bring along a photographer for our next gathering when we plan to paint the fish. I explained that we have one member who would most likely prefer to be left alone, but other than that it should be just fine. I e-mailed Barb to see what she thought and she said to go ahead with it.

So, I am suddenly more nervous than excited. I sent out a warning e-mail letting the youth know in advance that they would likely be interviewed. It's not always easy to be Baha'i in this town and it would be understandable if they didn't want the publicity over being the minority religion kids, but I'm hopeful that they are all happy to give a local voice to their fellow Baha'is who are being persecuted on the other side of the planet.

Even Joe sounded a little nervous when I told him. "So it's gonna be out there now," he said, meaning every one's going to know we're not like them now. He joked about having to look for another job. I figure that his boss has been to a Baha'i gathering and he still has a job, so we're probably okay. But it's fair that he be a teeny bit concerned. How lucky are we that in Utah we just have to worry that people will feel weird about us being a different religion instead of worrying that we'll be put to death over it? I suppose that's why we're doing this little project in the first place. Because we can speak out, create art, or call the press when we want to. We are blessed.

So, wish us luck and get ready to make a bid! It's going to look even more amazing when the youth get through with it!


  1. Skyla,
    You and your precious kids have done it again - you make me grin with tears in my eyes. One of these days, I swear, Deb and I will drive through utah just to meet you and Joe and fabulous children.
    With much admiration,
    ///Darrell Rodgers
    Casa Grande, AZ

  2. You're just a bog ole softy, Darrell! Consider our home your home! I did accidentally wind up in the home of Nelson Leduc a couple of weekends ago. Funny how that happens! Hopefully, you'll be next!


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