Friday, July 6, 2012

Illustration Friday: Suspend

I just finished this piece and wanted to share it.  It's part of my "Faces" series, which are portraits of people with hidden imagery and stories around the figures, in their hair or clothing/background-- mostly thus far, it's been the hair.  Here is a cartoon portrait to honor Karen Huff Klein.  it is titled "Live With Integrity."

For anyone who hasn't read the story on the news, Karen Klein was a bus monitor in Greece, New York, who was bullied by middle-schooler boys while on the bus with them.  This story went viral because the children thought bringing someone to tears with cruelty was funny, videotaped the whole encounter, and put it on Youtube.  Presumably, they thought people would be amused.  That was not so much the case.  After it went Viral, a man named Max Siderov set up an account on IndieGoGo dot com to help raise money for Karen so she could take a vacation.  The goal was five thousand dollars, and it has well surpassed 6K by now.  Karen's story hit a chord with many people.

I personally can't watch the video because it will make me too upset, but I read the transcript and was really horrified.  I can never tell if things in the world have always been a certain way, and the age of the Internet has just made it impossible to not see things for as awful as they are-- or if things are continuously getting worse.  In any case, kindness to people-- especially people who are somewhat older, or somewhat younger-- is something I think should be natural, and come naturally when dealing with others.  (I mean you as in the overall you, more like in Spanish when soemone says "ustedes"-- an actual word that, more or less, means "you all").  Someone who has weaknesses, at least in your estimation, should not be someone you gleefully think of as a target.  Unfortunately, that is not always the case.

One of the things that the children teased her over was her purse, which has several inspirational sayings on it.  Two of those are "Be Remarkable; You Already Are," and "Live With Integrity."  Karen herself has said that she tries to live by those words.  By all accounts, she very much seems to-- hence the title of my drawing.

Karen did not speak back against her tormentors.  She has been very kind, and surprised, in all of the subsequent interviews and events she's attended, with her newfound fame.  Now she will be able to retire, and with the remaining money, she is going to donate some to Down's Syndrome research, and she is going to give the rest of it to her grandchildren.  As for the bullies, nobody really knows what prompted them to do what they did.  Since the events, they have received death threats, harassment, and a suspension.  The city of Greece is now working to protect the students, as going after them for what they did is not going to help anybody. 

That last fact is why I am submitting this piece for "suspend" and Illustration Friday.  That, and I think mean spirited-ness should be "suspended" indefinitely, but I digress.

In any event, the boys have been suspended for a year, will go to a continuation school of sorts, and will have to do community service where they work with the elderly.  Again, I do not know why they felt the need to be so cruel, but I hope the experience really changes them for the better.  If they have serious problems in their lives and they were acting out, I hope they are able to overcome those problems for themselves, and so as to also never so hurt another person in the future.  If they have more of what you'd call a charmed life, and have been indulged to the point where they're young teens and have currently forgotten about the importance of treating other human beings decently, I hope this experience wakes them up and teaches them something valuable.

The massive support of Karen, and the fact so many people donated to her fund-- something she never asked for or even thought of--  because they felt for her and her situation, was an incredible story over the past few weeks.  I read many articles about her, because I wanted to do a portrait.  I wanted to show things about Karen as a person, and not reflect the bullying or cruelty she experienced in the drawing.  I finally found an article that discussed her life in detail, and the below article was what I drew much inspiration from:

Any interested readers can look at her hair, and see which things from that article are alluded to/hidden in her portrait.

To submit to I.F. this week, please go to:

To see more works I've done in the "Faces" series, please go to:

Thanks for reading, and hope all is well for everyone ^__^

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