Samuel Gray Art


Behind the scenes process of my work, recaps of my live painting shows, and stories that I find valuable

What Do You See?

What Do You See?

In light of recent events people have been making a buzz about how we are to not to allow Syrian refugees into our borders. U.S. politicians have taken a political stance and I have listened quietly to what others have said on twitter and facebook feeds. I have had some thoughts about safety and what it means to be safe. I do want to protect my family but I also want to do what's right. Maybe doing what's right isn't supposed to be comfortable.

I spent two hours painting the image above which has been in my head for quite some time. I listened to a live discussion last week with Chris Marlow and a few others about how we respond to evil and I would strongly recommend you give it a listen. Something that stood out to me was when Jonathan Merritt shared children refugees asking, "Do you see me?" Here is the link!

I also came across a poem that is imbedded throughout the art piece. It shared from the perspective of a refugee talking to a Clarkston resident. Throughout Outcasts United, the older residents of Clarkston were very negative about the refugees in their town. In the chapter, “Getting over It,” a quote from Pastor Phil Kitchin relates to the idea expressed in the poem, “Jesus said heaven is a place for people of all nations. So if you don’t like Clarkston, you won’t like heaven” (St. John 177). It shows that at the end of the day, we are all human beings despite our differences of race or nationality. News Link

What do you see when you look at me?
Why do you see me as such a threat?
All I want is to be accepted, to be free,
Yet you judge me even though we’ve barely met.
You see me and think that I’m just a stain
On the familiar image of your “perfect” town.
You refuse to see me as just someone seeking help
From a place in which everything has come crashing down.
You see me and think that I’m a parasite
Slowly eating away at your life.
You refuse to see me as a poor soul
Whose life has been constantly filled with strife.
You see me and think that I’m a cancer
Growing and destroying with the rest of my kind.
You refuse to see me as a stranded soul.
Someone who knows that peace, for me, is hard to find.
I stay here every day, trying to be one of you.
Yet you’ll never see it that way.
What if I told you something that I know
You’d never allow yourself to say? I am a person just like you.
Don’t you see?
I was always a human being, yet you chose to give me shame.
I eat. I sleep. I breathe. I feel.
And I bet that you do exactly the same.
It doesn’t matter where we grew up
Or how we got to where we are today.
It doesn’t change the fact that we’re people.
And as much as you hate it now, I’m here to stay.
If you looked past what is different, I wouldn’t have to tell you.
I just wanted you to see me for me.
If you look at it that way, maybe we could get along.
So now, what do you see when you look at me?
-Matthew Pinnock

Work Cited St. John, Warren. Outcasts United: An American Town, a Refugee Team, and One Woman's Quest to Make a Difference. New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2009. Link to original post

Original photograph reference taken by Jonathan Hyams

Video time-lapse of painting coming soon.

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