Peace Like a River
Oil on Braced Baltic Birch 33’ x 34” x 2”
In the ancient prophetic book of Isaiah, the imagery of a river cutting through a barren wasteland is symbolic of the eschatological hope that justice and mercy will one day reign, ushering in peace and wholeness. After reading about the nations streaming to the holy mountain, I envisioned a pod of Orcas released from aquarium amusement parks, journeying down a canyon river toward their intended home. On the way, they pass remnants of humankind: a hewn cave and carnage from the drought, their ancestor’s bones, which await resurrection to new life.
While I live near Marineland in Niagara Falls, Ontario, after seeing the 2013 documentary Blackfish my eyes were opened to the consequences of keeping orcas in captivity: sensory deprivation, increased aggression, lower-life expectancy. The Princeton Encyclopedia of Mammals (edited by David W. Macdonald) corroborates this by asserting that the complex social lives of cetaceans in the wild cannot be recreated in captivity, where unnatural stress is placed on these animals.
Shortly after I completed this painting, thanks to the tireless efforts of activist groups across Canada, the Senate passed a bill that will ban whale and dolphin captivity in our country. Finally, these beautiful and intelligent animals will stop being exploited for our amusement, and live free in the oceans where they belong.
Rehs Contemporary Award, International Salon Competition, Art Renewal Center