In the aftermath of the Columbine High school shooting, and upon a recommendation by a photographer friend (who covered the tragic event for the New York Post), I walked in the mountains of Colorado, looking for wild columbine flowers. They grow numerous on the sunny mountain faces in summer, white flowers with purple petals and tails like tentacles.
I noticed that there were a few flowers growing in the shade of trees. Instead of purple petals, they were completely white, almost transparent. The delicate flowers symbolized for me perfectly the fragility of lives, so young, haunted by the encroaching darkness of violence. The beauty of them so reminded me of one girl who was reported to have looked in the eyes of the perpetrator who held a gun to her head, taunting her, “Do you still believe in God?” She said “Yes, I believe” and was shot.
Later another friend told me that the columbines were the early church’s symbol for the Holy Spirit. When I paint the columbines, they come out almost like angels.