When Jamie Wells was studying art and illustration at Rhode Island School of Design, she didn’t imagine being pulled into a story half a world away. But that’s exactly what happened one day in May, when she read the words of writer Ann Voskamp.
Ann’s words, written after visiting with women and families we serve in Iraq, landed like a big rock in a still pool. As Jamie Wells puts it “I was cut deeply to my core.”
Jamie’s life was first interrupted by the stories of suffering girls who fled ISIS. And then, as a Christian of deep faith, her life was interrupted a second time “I felt like God was leading me to do a painting illuminating the forces at play over this daughter’s life, a fight between evil and sweet innocence.
My biggest struggle as an artist is conveying the truth of the world we live in with all of its depravity and still bring the light of God’s Divine presence. A lot of times I feel pressure to soften this paradigm. I was so inspired by Ann’s raw response to what she witnessed in Iraq. It was guttural. It was haunting for me personally, and the suburban life I live.”
Jamie describes the significance behind each element in her work:
FACE: This young beautiful face holds so much beauty and hope. She is the face of any of our daughters. Her eyes reflect God’s light.
SLASH OF RED: When I think of ISIS, I think of the blood they’ve spilled—that is the slash at the top of the painting. Scripture says “innocent blood cries out to God.”
BUNNY: As my children were watching me paint, they said, “Mommy is this our friend?” Even though we lived thousands of miles away, I said, “ Yes, she is!” Then I explained what I was doing. I asked my seven year old daughter if she would like to draw something for her friend. She said, "I am going to draw my bunny. She cheers me up!” I took her drawing and layered it on the canvas, because this is the innocence this girl should grow up experiencing.
HALO: The gilded halo encircling her head represents that this child is created in the Image of God, with divine value, worth, and significance.
When Jamie read about this young girl and the painful life she’s lead, she responded with her talents, her heart for social justice, a paintbrush, and paint. It would have been easier, emotionally, to close the browser window on her computer and move on with her day. Instead she stayed present with this girl and her suffering, and created two portraits that would introduce the Yezidi girls of this community to the world.
Prints of "Daughter in Red" and "Daughter in Blue" are available through our website. Proceeds provide safety, education, and dignified jobs to mothers and daughters across Iraq.