Speaking Passionately on Behalf of Those who Cannot Speak
by Calley O’Neill and Rama the Elephant with Jeb Barsh
There are so many fun stories to tell about this painting. Researching reference shots, and finding the photographer, Dale Walsh, I called him at what turned out to be late evening in his east-coast home. His humility and willingness to share, and his excitement to be asked was heart-warming. Here it is, Dale! Thank you so much!
Noa, Calley’s awesome son posed for the whale-tail holding the Earth at the top of the painting. I was there, and it wasn’t an easy pose to hold or capture. Thanks, Noa!
Following the ribbons on the border, keeping their orientation straight, color and shadow-wise was a trick. It actually tricked Calley a time or two, and she had to correct them.
Rama played a major role in the composition of this painting, and much of it surprised Calley as she painted. For instance, while the volcano in the background was obvious from the beginning, the mirrored whale-image over the whale suddenly became apparent one day. I’m not even sure that Calley was the first to notice.
The whale inserted into the border, bottom and sides, was a photo taken by Randy Johnson, a local practitioner of acupuncture who hikes and dives all over the Big Island on his days off. He caught this awesome photo (and many more) on a once-in-a-lifetime encounter with whales who came to him while snorkeling. Thanks, Randy!
The border took a very long time, given its complexity, and the fact that there is poetry lettered into the strands of the ribbons. Here’s what it says: ”Long live the humpback, lion-tailed macaques and silver-backs, wild-yaks, sand flax, crested firebacks, the Rock Hyrax and Western Diamond Backs.”
And on the bottom, “A declaration in every nation of our dedication to future generations to conservation and restoration and to imagination and innovation.”
The continuing decline of ocean health is one of the most serious and pervasive threats to human well being and our healthy future. One of the biggest challenges is our lack of knowledge about the ocean. Less than 3% of the ocean has been studied and mapped, and there is little information about the state of the ocean. In 2005, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) initiated the Global Marine Species Assessment Project to address this lack of knowledge. The first global review of the threat of extinction for marine vertebrates, plant, and select invertebrates; this study will establish the foundation for ocean conservation.