Dara Illowsky
The Last Time

My piece depicts Adonia, a young African slave who has escaped from his master in Orange County. I chose the ad for Adonia’s capture because when I read it, his story was the one that really touched me, and his image came through clearest in my mind. Reading this article, it was the number of blatant biases that came through. This man is described as a dog, property that has run from its proper place. His human identity has been all but destroyed, his name changed to Duca by a master who didn’t care enough to honor his heritage. Though these biases were meant to make readers see this man as lost property that must be returned for the sake of a fellow man, it really made me want to help the slave rather than the master. I pitied Adonia and sympathized with his need to be free. I felt anger and disgust towards the master who wrote such horrible things about another man.

In my creative process it was the idea of this man who “pretends to be free” that really inspired me. Somehow this phrase evoked somewhat of a light, spiritual idea in my mind. To convey this idea I chose to work in charcoal so to steer safely away from the harshness of certain mediums such as pen and ink. Green, blue, and yellow pastels were used to provide a solid, more interesting, beautiful finish to the spirituality of my work.

I used a great deal of symbolism in this drawing. The chain around Adonia’s wrist represents the bonds of slavery on which he pulls. He tries to ignore them so to make his charade of freedom that much more believable, but the tension he holds in his body, evident in his arms, caused by the weight of his secret slavery, cannot be ignored. The tension is not the only thing on Adonia’s body that can’t be ignored. Clear on his right side he bears several deep scars from a whipping just the day before he ran away. They seem to glow, in color as well as pain, a sort of tell- tale heart of his “crime” of being a runaway slave, truly free only in his dreams. The green and yellow in the background represent the rebirth of Adonia’s soul as he is free from his work and his master for the moment, but the blue tones represent the encroaching dark of his recapture and the sad, ever- present truth that he is not really free, no matter how hard he may try. The title of my piece, “The Last Time,” refers back to the scars on the right side of his body. He has been whipped, his dignity damaged and dented, but never broken. He has taken matters into his own hands, and run. No longer can his owner beat him and order him around like a dog. At least for the time being, this was the last time.

2008 Winners

Sisi Li (1)
Lia Rothschild (2)
Gus Boehling (3)
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Dustin Capek (H)
Keith Greenbaum (H)
Kahlilah Shahara Lilley (H)
Micole Woo (H)
Samantha Wilcox (H)
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Dara Illowsky
Yingna Liu
Roman Mendieta
Amanda Murray
Shannon Murray
Ali Simon-Fox
Megan Wachs