I was managing the live webcast of a memorial service on March 2nd at All Saints Church Pasadena, when I learned the service was for a young man named Justin Carr – a 16 year-old Harvard-Westlake student who’d been all over the news that week. The student lost his life to a weak heart during a swim workout. At the memorial, painting after painting lined the corridors of the church, all products of Justin’s hand. People stared at them, in awe. During the service, I marveled as one person after another got up to talk about the force of life Justin was. Privately, I identified deeply with the artist in this young man.
When’s Justin’s father got up to conclude all the sharings with his own, he did more than share. He demanded those in attendance act. He asked them to behave spontaneously in support of a new world peace movement in Justin’s name. Surely he was speaking to Justin’s family and friends – nearly 2,000 of them present – but I couldn’t help feeling moved myself. When I got home that day, I sat down and wrote “The Artist.”
I worked for half a week to turn the poem into a piece of video poetry, and after posting the piece online three days later, Justin’s father called me from his doctor’s office – crying – to express his gratitude. He had screened it for the doctor, too – and he cried as well. I felt like a trillion bucks! Darrell Carr (the father) and I are now collaborating on a second project in Justin’s honor.
Stay tuned. . .