Art often reflects current events and issues and can even be instrumental in motivating people toward a cause when the timing is right. Political topics can also be a minefield, though, especially in a world where changes happen faster than downloading media from the camera.
I wanted to act fast, get something out into the public while the topic was still capturing everyone’s attention. After all, good news tends to have a short shelf life in today’s media. I knew if we didn’t move quickly that attention would move elsewhere, rendering the subject moot. I explained to body artist Jennifer Baxter what I was wanting to do and she happily agreed to help. Finding models was a little more challenging, though. They needed to all be about the same height, without too much difference in their body types. After a number of email and texts, along with a smattering of begging and pleading, we found five who could work together and had enough time to participate in the project.
Those who have been around body painting before know that covering a body with any level of detail and precision takes some time, even under the best of circumstances. Giving the paint time to dry, making sure lines blend well, working around body parts, all contributes to a very time-consuming task. Add to that task the challenge of working with multiple bodies whose designs needed to match from one to the other. We knew when we started that this was going to be a very long evening.
It was almost 1:00 AM when the models lined up and we took the pictures we needed. Here, the irony of body paint took hold: After all that time of preparation, I only needed one shot. We dropped multiple frames to make sure we got one with no one smiling or fidgeting, but the whole thing took less than five minutes and we were done. Then, today’s picture happened. The girls didn’t want to remove the paint so quickly after it had taken so long to achieve. Silliness ensued and even extended outside the studio. No one wanted the fun to stop.
Sadly, the hope for Peace didn’t last and within a month of presenting the picture below it became painfully evident that we had jumped the gun. Violence and war still plague the region. One group of bullies were simply replaced with others who were just as bad, if not worse. The hope of Arab Spring has yet to be realized. Such things are beyond my control. Still, there was that brief moment in time where this picture was appropriate, and we celebrated the joy of people coming together for a united cause.