We’ve got a song for the Third Culture Kid series: Painting Pictures of Egypt by Sara Groves. We’re going to have a movie, I’ll share that at some point (I have one in mind but am open to suggestions). Today I’m giving us a picture.
This painting was done by Graziella LeBlond who was born in Madagascar, went to university and got married in France, and now lives and raises her daughter in Djibouti. The Arabic writing across the top says, “Africa.”
She is grounded, rooted deep into the soil. So much that her feet disappear into the earth. She is standing straight and firm, filled with confidence and conviction and she draws this strength from the sense of solidness beneath her feet. She knows where she comes from. She grew slowly, over time, into the person she is. She is leaving behind the earth, but looks ahead without cowering, without hesitating. She knows where she is going.
She carries with her a piece of what once held her, to guide and remind. She is also clothed in the earth, this differentiates her from other women. Though she is equally beautiful, she is unique. She is faceless because she is every woman, she is virtually formless because she represents men as well, and she is bald because her identity doesn’t come from an external or appearance-based aspect. Where she was, where she is, and where she is going are all wrapped up in her sense of personhood.
I interviewed Graziella for an article in the Djibouti Post and asked her about this painting. She explained that the ridges and textures you see (and in person, they are quite obvious), are because to mix her paint she used the actual dirt of Djibouti.
I love that.
So, to me and to relate this painting to our Third Culture Kid series, I see this woman as representing those who feel rooted to one place while moving toward another. I want her to be an image of the strength and courage our TCKs possess and I want the dirt forming her clothing to remind us that it isn’t an easy, clean journey. She has struggled, but she has hope. I want her open face to mark that all are welcome to the conversation.
She is beautiful, dirt and color and walking stick and all.
What else do you see in this painting?