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Forgiving Artists

Forgive Artists

New illustration for an article on what level we can or should forgive artists known to have taken advantage of young girls.

I have been totally excited at the prospective release of J.D. Salinger’s unpublished works, but then I learned of his relationship with 14-year-old Jean Miller.

What should our position as fellow artists be toward those among us who are guilty of violent, exploitative, oppressive behavior toward teens? Should we boycott Roman Polanski? What if all the accusations against Woody Allen are true?

Or must we find a way to separate the man from the art? To appreciate and enjoy a film without regard to the character of its creator?

Old & New Project: Turning Points Highlights

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Round 3 of Old & New Project came to a close today. It’s been another fantastic set of contributions from artists all over the globe.

Like any good parent, I don’t like to choose favorites among my offspring, but there were a handful in this round (all contributed by female artists by the way) that impacted me for one reason or another.

1. Gideon Meets the Lord by Ciara Panacchia (above)

This piece, though simple, has tons of emotion wrapped up in it without feeling melodramatic. That’s an extremely difficult thing to pull off for an illustrator, so the way Ciara does it here is truly impressive.

Another reason this image resonates so strongly with me personally is because I have a boy named Gideon in my family, and he—like his namesake—is up against all odds, yet consistently inspiring each of us with his capacity to do great things.


Sales from Ciara’s piece go to charity.


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2. Jonah Thrown Overboard by Melanie Matthews

One of my early reservations about the Turning Points theme was that we’d be including more popular Bible stories than past rounds. Both Jim and I have always been drawn to and enjoy sharing more obscure passages with many who may have never realized they were contained in the Bible. So when it came to perhaps the most illustrated passage ever from the Old Testament, I couldn’t help but be a little nervous we’d be publishing more of the same old thing.

While writing the familiar story of Jonah, I tried to focus on what may have been his greatest Turning Point (he had several), and it seemed to me the moment he confesses his flight and volunteers to be thrown overboard is pretty critical to the whole tale.

When Melanie Matthews delivered this piece (all the way from Australia, no less), my fears were relieved. She somehow managed to demonstrate one of the most visually exploited stories in all history in a fresh, new and fabulous way. The look of relief on Jonah’s face as he watches the sun break through the clouds and the storm subside, totally unaware of the gaping jaws below is totally priceless, and should go down as one of the great “Jonah and the Big Fish” illustrations ever.


Sales from Melanie’s piece go to charity.


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3. A Man of Unclean Lips by Sophia Foster-Dimino

Every once in a while, I’m so excited about one of our contributing artist’s agreeing to be part of the project, they can’t possibly live up to my expectations. After discovering Sophia this past year when her Bram Stoker “doodle” was featured on Google’s home page, I secretly thought there was no way she was going to create something as awesome as I hoped she would… but she did.

I honestly had to stop to catch my breath after seeing this for the first time, but what makes it even more fabulous is Sophia’s thoughts on her design process—which demonstrates so beautifully exactly why  including athiests among all the other variety of faith backgrounds contributing art to Old & New Project has been so important to Jim and I since the beginning.


Sales from Sophia’s piece go to charity.


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4. Samson by Alexandra Beguez

I have to admit, I faced a bit of a dilemma when Alexandra delivered this piece. The story I’d written on Samson was specifically about his spirit breaking in prison and reaching out to God in his first moment of real weakness. There was no mention of the lion carcass or honeycomb at all.

But this design was so awesome!

It was so good, in fact, I edited my story a bit to include a few phrases hinting at this lion-and-honey episode. I can’t say exactly what it is about Alexandra’s piece that moves me, but I love Samson as a “regular guy,” as opposed to the stereotypical Schwarzenegger-type, and her use of high-contrast reversed color is totally unique and surprising.


Sales from Alexandra’s piece go to charity.


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4. Saved by a Harlot by Julie Frey

Rahab’s is one of my favorite stories in the whole Bible. Not only does it beg the provocative question, “what exactly were those spies doing in her house?” but I feel prostitutes are easily the most misunderstood and misrepresented biblical characters  (particularly in the western church).

I was really excited to see how Julie handled Rahab’s story. She focused on the woman’s redemption in the scarlet cord, but made sure to include the more scandalous but important facts surrounding the story (however appropriately left in the shadows).


Sales from Julie’s piece go to charity.


2012 Favorite Albums

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Here are a few of my favorite albums from the past year. Listen for yourself in my “2012 Favorite Albums” playlist on Spotify.

2012 Albums I Anticipated

  • Andrew Bird – Break it Yourself / Hands of Glory
  • Animal Collective – Centipede Hz
  • The Avett Brothers – The Carpenter
  • Beach House – Bloom
  • Feist – Metals
  • Grizzly Bear – Shields
  • Japandroids – Celebration Rock
  • Kathleen Edwards – Voyageur
  • Mumford & Sons – Babel
  • Passion Pit – Gossamer
  • Regina Spektor – What we Saw from the Cheap Seats
  • Sigur Ros – Valtari
  • Sleigh Bells – Reign of Terror

2012 Albums that Surprised Me

  • Alex Winston – King Con
  • Bill Ryder-Jones – If…

  • Diiv – Oshin
  • Fang Island – Major
  • First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar
  • Frank Ocean – channel ORANGE
  • Lightships – Electric Cables
  • The Menzingers – On the Impossible Past
  • Miike Snow – Happy to You
  • Norah Jones – Little Broken Hearts
  • Of Monsters and Men – My Head is an Animal
  • Sharon Van Etten – Tramp
  • Spiritualized – Sweet Heart Sweet Light
  • Twin Shadow – Confess

Strong Odors on Spotify

Strong Odors: Music-inspired Art