Karla Sanders
Karla_Sanders_Music_Saved_My_Life_Migration_Portfolio.jpg

Take Flight

This piece is both a personal story and one inspired by an incredible children’s book called The Journey by Francesca Sanna. I discovered this book while looking for a way to practice Turkish and took on the task of translating it to English. In Turkish it is called Yolculuk, and I read it out loud many nights while writing the translation.

The Journey is a remarkable tale about a mother and her two children who must flee a war-torn country; it follows their journey to a new place through woven text and powerful illustration.

So often we hear about refugee crises around the world and we never get to know the real stories of people living them; what do they think, what are their hopes and dreams, who is behind the label? I was particularly moved by the last spread of the book which depicts the mother and her children flying on a bird among many other birds. We are often drawn to birds for all they represent; their freedom to migrate, to go where they please, their ability to sing and no one tells them, don’t sing.

While studying this spread I imagined my own scene of birds and the kinds of journeys every person must take in life. The resulting artwork and poem reflect hopes and dreams, the feeling of standing at the cliff not knowing what lies ahead, and the things that carry us through journeys. How we must take courage to spread our wings and fly toward the uncertainty of a distant horizon.

This piece is dedicated to Save the Children.

 

Take flight

Digital illustration / painting, 24” x 36” - available in smaller sizes as well

Digital illustration / painting, 24” x 36” - available in smaller sizes as well

 
 

This piece is both a personal story expressed in the poem below and one inspired by an incredible children’s book called The Journey by Francesca Sanna. I discovered this book in a North Cypriot bookstore while looking for a way to practice Turkish. The Turkish title is Yolculuk, and I read it out loud many nights while writing the translation.

The Journey is a remarkable tale about a mother and her two children who must flee a war-torn country; it follows their journey to a new place through woven text and powerful illustration.

So often we hear about refugee crises around the world and we never get to know the real stories of people living them; what do they think, what are their hopes and dreams, who is behind the label? I was particularly moved by the last spread of the book which depicts the mother and her children flying on a bird among many other birds. We are often drawn to birds for all they represent; their freedom to migrate, to go where they please, their ability to sing and no one tells them, don’t sing.

In 2016 I experienced a profound moment that so vividly painted the immigration crisis. I was standing on an international border; in Big Bend National Park the Rio Grande River separates Mexico and the US, and it’s easy to wander along the banks of the river mere meters from Mexico. There I observed the river’s current when I noticed a rock submerged right in the middle. Upon it sat a little bird, and every few seconds she flew up from the rock, then quickly back down to the rock. Her frantic up and back flight to and from the rock gave the impression of uncertainty.

Which side should I fly to? The bird seemed to ask.

Of course I don’t know what a bird asks, but what an incredible sight. A bird caught between two nations. Eventually she would choose a side and no one would stop her.

The characters in The Journey and millions of other people across the world do not have this freedom.

After studying the book’s last spread I imagined my own scene of birds and the kinds of journeys every person must take in life. The resulting artwork and poem reflect hopes and dreams, the feeling of standing at the cliff not knowing what lies ahead, and the things that carry us through difficult journeys. How we must take courage to spread our wings and fly toward the uncertainty of a distant horizon.

This piece is dedicated to Save the Children, learn more on my Prints page.

Below I share the poem I wrote while illustrating, which makes up the personal side of the art. I wrote and illustrated everything to the sound of master composer Ludovico Einaudi, songs - Oltremare - Experience - Night - among many others.


Music We Seek

Music saved my life

When I fell from the cliff

as the breath left my body

upon the breadth of a melody

a soft swell rose to raise me


There among the clouds

Music took me away

to the nightingale up high

his song regaled my tired eyes

I felt his vitality

Grace, there among birds

How we soared to the sun

There, the world revealed to me 

There, a man bent down on his knee

in flowers what does he seek?

Valse, you speak my truth

Keman, you know my worth 

Klavier, you hold me raptured 

Savior, the swallow uncaptured

With these voiceless ones I flew

 

With my wings unfurled 

We flew to the forest 

A leaf draped across my face 

This relief, a wanted embrace 

I breathed in blue and rejoiced 

Now the cuckoo came

with her I flew farther 

She drew stairs with her low note

I floated down the song she wrote

and waved her goodbye for now

For now I see new

the bird perched on wire 

the sparrow lost in a field

They furrow for something to heal

They search for the hallowed song 

But it exists here

In Vivaldi, in you

In me, down by the cold sea

in the free breeze, in this soft plea

All you must do is feel it 

Now I live in song

I waltz with my shadow 

Before the deep crescendo 

I step in to the great abyss

and play to the vast unknown