Where Do Their Dreams Go?

“It is too simplistic to just blame it on adolescence because there are teens who remain focused and who do want to pursue a good education,” he wrote. “I wonder what kills the dreams of childhood of those who get lost on the journey?”

Stephen King, Principal La Loche Community School, 2009 in a blog post, quoted in the Edmonton Journal (Douglas Quan), January 29, 2016 in a story about a 17 year old in La Loche who shot several people, 4 of whom died.

This painting is a response to the events in La Loche, and in all the other places were similar shootings have been carried out by hopeless young people. The child on the swing is a bit ethereal and timeless. Around her there are layers of drawings, aspirations, and creations of the imagination. The top layers of white, obscure the dreams in a sort of mist.


I was a kindergarten teacher and some decades ago, a child I will call T spent a few weeks in my class. She was in foster care. I didn’t really know her story, but could conclude that things in her life were problematic, given the need to be remove her from her family’s care. Despite this, she appeared happy, effervescent even. She did a painting during that time which I held on to, partly because I tried to retain one painting per month from each child, all of which were taken home at the end of the year, but In her case, she was gone before I could return it.

The painting was a sunflower with a big dark centre, surrounded by red petals; there is a sun in the top corner. I thought at the time that the big dark centre was telling us something about her experience. That there was something deeply unsettling she kept inside, while she wrapped it with colour and a receptiveness to the good she could find.

In this painting, I have quoted T’s painting, adding some figural elements. Resilience counters the big dark parts with life asserting petals. Time, presented in the obscuring white lines, either eases the dark parts, or obscures the bright ones.