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Meet The Painter

In one of Junot Diaz’ lectures that I have watched in my You Tube education, he says that the world expects humans to function at the pace of machines. He reminds us that we are in fact not machines and art serves as such a reminder. I feel better thinking on this since I have been working on the same topic for 10 months. It’s definitely not “machine” pace. I’m not even sure its “human” pace. A friend of mine once imitated a sloth during our trip to Costa Rica. I think I am sort of like this guy here crossing the road.  This photo of a three toed sloth is from the actual trip. He was crossing the road and my friend caught it on her iPhone.

He is not in front of his laptop so at this point I might be ahead of the game. In my writing sloth-dom, I’m proud to support an up and coming artist!

A good friend of ours is moving to Belgium. This is a devastating loss to our group. Belguim is amazing in so many ways. She came to Michigan in the 90’s to escape war in Albania. She has gone through high school and college here.  Despite her having experienced war, she has thrived in her career, social circles and as a person. She is warm to my son and an open heart with whom I can divulge completely.  She has done a great deal of travel and has seen more of the world that I will ever experience. She has an insatiable curiosity and has the ability to express it in multiple languages. Ironically, she has probably gone through the HB1 Visa process with ex-US PhDs in her work in HR.  Despite the ability of her company to sponsor PhDs with “special” skill sets, she is not eligible for the same benefit.  She is fortunate enough to be able to take another position within the company to leave the US. After a year or so she can renew her US visa or migrate all together. Such a move is not without its benefits. In Belgium, she would be physically closer to her parents, still in Albania. Although she sounds European, she thinks herself American having spent her formative years here. Part of me is excited for the move. I have been living in the Philadelphia area for 15 years.  My husband and I often fantasize about living elsewhere in the country.   The other part of me faults a system that allowed her ability to live and work here to expire.  Lastly, there's that losing another person that knows the core of me.  
In my “travels”, I have been fortunate to befriend a colleague with many talents. She and I have shared the immigrant background of being “other” until our families could assimilate. I have known her to be empathic, driven and all the while putting her talents where it would benefit humanity. She doesn’t share much about herself, being introverted. She did tell me that she is a painter. She agreed to paint a cityscape of Philadelphia. Our group decided on this so Belgium might remember us. It was a much better idea then an enlarged group photo (which was my idea). Here is what the Painter has done.

Original photo she is rendering is courtesy of Google.

looks like the Painter is also powered by the almighty cup...

I am not an artist. The closest I have gotten is Paint Nite.  The ability to render what one is looking at onto a visual medium is amazing. Right now it seems like I am the only one who knows the artist and the recipient, the talented Painter and the illustrious Belgium.  Somehow this painting is a bridge between them, two lives that otherwise wouldn’t intersect.  It is certainly a bridge from Belgium to us in Philadelphia. I am grateful that such a piece could exist beyond the noise so she can recall when we give it to her (her going away dinner hasn’t actually happened yet). It is also a reminder that art bridges lives the way Belgium’s upcoming migration bridges oceans onto the life that awaits her.


  1. Wow, this was great! I love how you connected two complete strangers in such a beautiful way. Through your gift and also your words.


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