Thursday, December 20, 2012

Why the Newtown Shooting Made Me Think of This Painting

Like most Americans, upon hearing of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, last week, my first reaction was disbelief. How could this happen? Why did this happen? How and why did this happen yet again? Like President Obama, I reacted as a parent as my thoughts raced to the possibility of my own children caught in such an attack. As I slowly digested the news (and as the news itself clarified earlier errors in reports), I kept coming back in my mind to Shannon Hicks’ photograph of Connecticut State Police leading children away from the scene as the children kept their eyes tightly closed and clung to one another in a long human chain. Then my mind linked that image to a painting that has long stuck in my mind—John Singer Sargent’s Gassed (shown above, from 1918-1919), his depiction of World War I soldiers blinded by mustard gas being led in procession to medical care. There are so many things to say about this incident, but these two images put together, at least for me, cut to the heart of what meaning we can draw from it. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Why the Newtown Shooting Made Me Think of ThisPainting."

[Image: John Singer Sargent. Gassed, 1918-1919. Image source here.]


Hels said...

I know John Singer Sargent's painting very well, and was always saddened by how dependent and helpless men became, after the ravages of war. They might recover one day, given enough support and treatment, but they will forever be scarred.

We can say exactly the same thing about the children!!! But would you still use the war metaphor?

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