September 11, 2009


She is going to be the model for my next Runway painting. I don't know her name. But I do know she is quite lovely and wearing a stunning dress by Alexander Wang. Her photo was taken by Mat Szwajkos/Getty Images.

My original plan was to pair her with the little girl running naked after being burned in a napalm attack on her village in the Vietnam War.

This iconic picture was taken in 1972 by Nick Ut, a young Vietnamese photographer working for the Associated Press. It won the Pulitzer Prize.

It is so painful to look at these children, all from the same family, that I don't know if I can bear to paint them.

While the U.S. soldiers in Ut's photo appear indifferent to the children's plight, moments later Americans came to her aid. The humanitarian act was captured by a British cameraman, Alan Downes, in the photo below. The black censure band reflects the practice of the time.

The girl, Kim Phuc, not only lived but married, raised a family, settled in Canada and was named a good-will ambassador for the United Nations.

Here she is with her infant son Thomas, her back horribly disfigured by the napalm burns. The photo was taken in a 1995 by Anne Bayin.

Instead of Ut's photo I may borrow from the shot below of one of the militias that complicated things in Iraq.

It is probably appropriate to turn to the Iraq image since this is the eighth anniversary of Al Qaeda's 9/11 attack on the United States.

George Bush convinced Congress to allow him to go to war with Iraq because Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11 and because Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. Both reasons turned out to be false.

More than 4,300 service personnel and countless thousands of Iraqis have died in that war, and it isn't over. Meanwhile, we're committing thousands more troops to Afghanistan, a war that I think will become an albatross around President Obama's neck - and ours.

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