Interviews with Artists Featured in the "Uncompromising Courage" Exhibit: "Uncompromising Courage" by Kathleen Gillis

PureInsight | August 30, 2004

Detail of Oil Painting "Uncompromising Courage" by Kathleen Gillis
(38 in X 52 in.), 2004

[Editor's Note: On July 15-16, a painting exhibition entitled "Uncompromising Courage" was held at the exhibition hall of the U.S. House of Representatives' Rayburn House Office Building. The exhibition was sponsored by the Washington, D.C. Falun Dafa Association. The artworks were the creations of Falun Gong practitioners. A few of the artists are still illegally imprisoned in jail. After five years of brutal persecution, these Falun Gong practitioners, as artists, hope to use art to display the joy of reclaiming one's heart after cultivating Falun Gong, their uncompromising courage, their persevering pursuit of the universal principles – "Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance," and their faith that justice will eventually overcome the evil. Each artist has their own specialty. They tried their best to use traditional painting skills to achieve the objectives. One after another, we will introduce each artist's works of art, the conceptions of their works, the stories behind their creations, and the skills that were used in the paintings. ]

Reporter: Could you briefly describe your past experience in oil painting?

Kathy: Well, my training is very spotty. I did some commercial art work. Then I had children, and during their nap times I worked on a correspondence course. Later I did a Visual Arts degree at the University of Ottawa, but at that time they were teaching conceptual art and abstract expressionism.

Reporter: You loved painting when you were young, I guess?

Kathy: Oh, yes. I was determined to do art when I was 12 years old.

Reporter: Do you recall any incident that caused you to decide to do it?

Kathy: I recall that when I was in the little town I grew up in I was not very pleased with what I was saw. One day my uncle took me to a gallery in Montreal, which opened up a whole world.

Reporter: When did you start Falun Dafa cultivation?

Kathy: In 1998. I saw a booth at University of Ottawa. The exercises appealed to me. The practitioner's energy and clarity attracted me. At that time I felt I needed to do some exercises as my body was getting older.

Reporter: How did the cultivation affect your physical and mental health?

Kathy: In terms of mental health, my mind became clearer. In terms of physical health, it was remarkable. I only have half a thyroid gland, and I should be on medication for the rest of my life. Soon after I started to cultivate the thyroid levels went up and I did not need any medication, which should not be possible.

Reporter: I saw a few of your paintings at the exhibition, one titled "Uncompromising Courage". Could you give the background about this one? How did you get the idea and inspiration to do this painting?

Detail of Oil Painting "Uncompromising Courage" by Kathleen Gillis
(38 in X 52 in.), 2004

Kathy: I saw an image on the Internet of a practitioner tied to a chair and I was very moved by that practitioner. It resonated with me. I had also recently seen a sculpture in which a Christian was looking into the sky. This struck me, and the two images fused together to form that one image. The practitioner that I asked to sit for a few photographs for me had himself been beaten in China. He had been arrested in China, and had also been beaten at the Chinese embassy here. They even pointed out that they could do whatever they liked inside the embassy as it is considered Chinese soil.

Reporter: What was the biggest difficulty when you did this painting?

Kathy: The biggest difficulty was, well, normally I would have left the painting when it was half way through, but for this kind of painting, when you think you are finished, you are just starting. First of all, the images at the bottom, I had no idea where those images would come from, but once I started to work on that area I had no trouble finding the images that I needed when I looked around me. (I am referring to the figures that seem to be coming up through the floor). Then, as to the figure itself, I wanted to represent him in all of his humanity and all of his strength. Then the hand, the hand was a wonderful thing to do. When you look at the hand you will see the hand is based on a circle and the lines formed by the joints of his fingers radiate out like Faluns. I tried to make the hand compassionate. The setting in the background is underground, cave-like.

Reporter: I heard that this painting was based on the story of Liu Chengjun, the practitioner who broadcast Falun Gong truth story on Chinese government TV?

Kathy: Yes, it was his photograph that moved me. The one where he was sitting in a chair.

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