Interviews with Artists Featured in the "Uncompromising Courage" Exhibit: "The People's Tribunal" by Kathleen Gillis

PureInsight | August 30, 2004

Oil Painting "The People's Tribunal" by Kathleen Gillis
(32in X 58in), 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: Another painting of yours, "The People's Tribunal", did you paint it based on a photo?

Kathy: No, not a particular photo. I was there, and I was taking photos when I was there. Then I used elements of several photos and made them into one image. The practitioners in their yellow shirts are grouped together in such a way that they form a yellow shape that points to Jiang. The beings in the sky are compassionately watching.

Reporter: Did anyone tell you what was in the sky or you just did these figures based on your understanding?

Kathy: No, no one particularly told me. At first I had a lot of doubts about portraying anything that I had not seen. But then when I thought about it, I realized that I don't just paint what I see, I also paint what I know.

Reporter: What message do you want this painting to tell the viewers?

Kathy: There are a few Westerners in the painting. I wanted to give the viewers a chance to relate to it and not to think of it as something happening in another country, but rather something happening right here. I remember one time when I was at Parliament Hill, a woman came up to me and she said, "Why don't you take your problems back to where you came from?" I am a Westerner. She has such a strong impression that this was somebody else's problem that my ethnic origin did not even register on her. People just want to dismiss it: it is on the other side of the earth and it does not affect them. But it does affect them.

Oil Painting "The Heavens Speak" by Kathleen Gillis
(32 X 58 in.), 2004

Reporter: Another painting, "The Heavens Speak," you must have a story for that one. Could you tell me about it?

Kathy: I was in Houston, and was "drowned" by the tremendous rain and cold. Wherever Jiang was, that black cloud would follow. It hung over his hotel, and then it moved on to the President's ranch when he was there. So it was as black as it appears in the painting, very dense, very black, very threatening. At one point in time, the rainbow appeared at one side of the sky. We looked at the beautiful rainbow, and we kind of relaxed and celebrated. It wasn't until much later that I knew that at that point, as we were relaxed, it gave the chance for Jiang to recover. The appearance of that beautiful rainbow encouraged us to let down our guard.

Reporter: Could you interpret the different parts of the painting, the sky, the rainbow, and the people on the ground?

Kathy: In the sky there is a battle on horse-back going on in the clouds. But I did not want it be too obvious or let people see it right away. I want people to see it after they have looked at other things first. The turmoil in the sky was what I felt then and the manifestation of the emotions is played out in the conflict there. The image of the single figure in the sky that appears to be descending; this image came to me in a dream. I woke up in the morning and this image was in my mind.

Reporter: what did you want the viewer to see at the first sight?

Kathy: The viewers would be led through the painting in a very natural way. They will follow the road to the rainbow, or follow the rainbow down. The sky will come afterwards. When you get close up, you will see the figures in the sky. I used strong color as arrows to point the directions, pointing up or pointing in. They all go to the focal point.

Oil Painting of two readers of Zhuan Falun by Kathleen Gillis
(23in X 58 in.), 2004

Reporter: Another painting, two kids reading a book, Zhuan Falun. Could you tell me the background of it?

Kathy: I wanted to have something very homey, very familiar to Westerners. I started with a combination of two things. One was something I had seen on the internet; a practitioner standing up reading a Dafa book at a public place. Over his head, there was a red blur. When my husband saw it, he said:"Look at the face!" I was intrigued by that. I had not seen the face at first. So I combined this image with two little children reading in a very domestic setting. Later on, I learned that the red was actually a series of Falun. When they move, they form that red arc. The head is a cultivated being.

Reporter: Those two kids are very cute, did you use model?

Kathy: They are my grand kids. I took photo of them for this. But they have not see the painting yet.

Reporter: In western paintings, there are scenes about the human world and heaven in the same painting. Your paintings have multiple dimensions as well, although it is not the same.

Kathy: Actually I think people don't really understand that any more. They think of a painting in terms of its composition, its color, and they have forgotten about the content, the meaning carried by the image, they have forgotten how to look.

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