What would you do?

What would you do if you were running for your life across a frozen body of water, and your pursuer fell through the ice?

I conceived of this painting based on the true story of an Anabaptist in the 1500’s. His name was Dirk Willems and he was burned at the stake for his belief in the practice of adult baptism. Incredibly, Willems was executed following his heroic act of rescuing his pursuer who fell through the ice of a moat.

Dirk Willems’ heroism and compassion is still widely celebrated by Anabaptists today.

On the announcement of the theme this year’s Art Expo, the visual of two hands reaching toward each other came to my mind. The fire of course, represents the man who reached out the hand of rescue and then was burned at the stake. The icy blue section is the hand of the man who was rescued, yet was still ‘cold’ enough to turn in his rescuer to be executed.

Other countries experience persecution of faith, but none have hit the media as hard as the recent atrocities of the persecution of Christians in Iraq. The city of Mosul has been emptied of Christians by the Islamic state on the order to convert to Islam, pay a religious tax or face death. A Christian civilization for thousands of years is now abandoned, and other cities are facing the same ultimatum.

The painting was displayed as part of the Human Rights Showcase Gallery at Manitoba Art Expo. The special themed showcase was in honour of the opening of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, which opened that year.

This article is also feature on the Community News Commons and Mytoba.ca.