In the summer of 2013, the murder of Trayvon Martin dominated US news cycles for weeks. As if we needed more... Read More
In the summer of 2013, the murder of Trayvon Martin dominated US news cycles for weeks. As if we needed more of such news, the city of New Orleans had its own slate of what I referred to as “murdered minors.” The recurring events reminded me of the biblical Massacre of the Innocents, the story in which Herod orders the execution of all young males in Bethlehem to avoid the loss of his throne to a newborn king. I began questioning what justification could possibly defend these modern slayings, and it quickly dawned on me that it never seemed to take much for the killers to justify their actions. Sometimes it was a simple as the victim wearing the wrong kind of clothing.
Nicolas Poussin’s The Massacre of the Innocents has always been my favorite depiction of the aforementioned biblical tale, but much like the killing of youths that seemed to characterize that summer, it had never been a settled image for me. I decided to experiment with it, to see what changes I had to compel in order for the actions depicted to feel reasonable.
Having Found the Lowest Threshold (St. George Slaying the Dragon) was the result.
The women and children had to be from another world—they had to be aggressive—in order for the soldier’s actions to feel “okay.” Sadly, those two criteria could be met simple by giving them another skin color and a different vision than the one holding the weapon.