Identity is made up of a complex set of hundreds of categories. Some of those aspects are age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, politics, sexuality, class, disability, physical appearance, personality, and personal interests. Similarities in categories are easy to bond us to one another. Humanity seems to have a natural pull towards like-mindedness in many cases, but what about our differences?
We each strive to be unique. We hope others will see our differences and celebrate them rather than be fearful of them. Maybe even just acknowledge them rather than ignore them. More than anything, don't we all just want to be seen for who we really are?
My favorite 13th century Persian poet Rumi said "The beauty you see in me is a reflection of you." Seeing someone for who they are, past titles and check boxes, is where true beauty is acknowledged, and reflected. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but the very act of seeing it reflects our ability to cherish it.
This painting was born out of a beautiful conversation with my mom. She said that humanity needs to be reminded of how to celebrate our differences, rather than be fearful of them, or just look past them. She suggested a black swan and a white swan. Thank you mom for collaborating on this painting with me. I'll always treasure our conversations, and I'll always see the two of us in this work.
Artwork by Julie Leidel, February 2021. Quote by Rumi.