Art with heart
By KATIE DOWNS – Guest Writer
After interning with the Athens Banner-Herald, a Clarke Central High School senior learned the power of editorial cartoons.
I have always been an artist. As a child, I would tote my sketchbook around, doodling and creating characters at any free moment. The beauty of art lies in its ability to transcend all levels of education and age, all colors and all nationalities. An image rings through language barriers and connects the minds of the masses.
Cartoon by Katie Downs
An internship I did last summer working as a political cartoonist for the Athens Banner-Herald taught me the power that an editorial cartoon could have. It was not until this summer that I began to analyze the implications of my work and understand the power a single illustration can have on someone.
I created a new editorial cartoon nearly every day that would then be published for all of the community to view. I tried to avoid offending any particular ethnic or religious group. The problem was, it is impossible to evade all criticisms and hurt feelings when drawing a political cartoon. While it is important to be thoughtful and sketch out your concept before drawing the final version, there is a point where you just have to expect, or even welcome scrutiny.
Subsequently, I developed a resistance to the basic human fear of rejection, at least as a cartoonist. If it’s prim and polite, no one will be interested in it. The news has to be reflective of the population it is written for. The job demanded an intense stalking of world news, an activity I had not previously participated in. Before, news would have to meet me half way if it had any hopes of being heard.
It was the kind of news that you turn away from because it looks too depressing to watch before bed, or what’s even better is the news that drags on, with more gossip about mundane and sleazy politicians. It was the news about things like stock market struggles and revolts and turmoil in foreign countries that I had written off as “none of my
business” that suddenly became my business.
I realized that it was my job to take the news, and display it in a single image. That image could be funny or sad. There is lightness in the world that persists despite all the tragedy and death. With this same light, I was privileged to have the opportunity to illuminate a small bit of the news for a moment each day.
One of the best feelings is to see this light warm somebody when they look at one of my cartoons. They look and they understand. I saw the light returned in the laughing eyes of my father when I featured him for a special Father’s Day cartoon, I saw it in the warming smiles of the people in my community.
In a simple sketch, a glinting reflection of humanity was revealed.