“My work as a whole encompasses an exploration of the human experience. My interest in the people around me comes from the idea that we look at people every day, but we never really stop to SEE them. In every painting I strive to capture the beauty, variations and complexities of the human form. The goal of my portrait work is to capture the soul of the individual–not just their likeness. I’m inspired by the figurative works (to name a few) of Sargent, Fechin, Thayer, Caravaggio and John Giarrizzo. John, my art professor at Northwest College, instilled in me a great love of art and an immense desire to create it. His work and ideas have found their way into mine. I see my work as a self-portrait in that the subjects of my paintings are all a part of me, each painting a learning experience and an exploration of myself as an artist.”
Greater Love Hath No Man began with the idea to paint an historical event that I have known about my entire life: The murder of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. Joseph Smith was the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Days Saints, commonly known as the Mormon Church. Joseph and his brother Hyrum were shot and killed by an angry mob on June 27, 1844 while they were in prison at Carthage Jail in Carthage, Illinois. My inspiration was to paint the scene just before Hyrum Smith was shot through the Jailor’s bedroom door. I wanted to show a well-known event from a unique perspective, to paint a moment that had never been seen before. As a child, I learned the story of the murder of Joseph and Hyrum Smith and saw pictures of the door that still has the bullet hole in it. Those photos had a great impact on me even at a very young age. I wanted to create a painting that reflected my childhood reaction while remaining historically rich. And I felt a powerful way to do this was through a diptych, a two-panel painting, showing the struggle of the men on both sides of the wall just moments before the shot through the door.
Early in the process, I decided I wanted to portray this moment truthfully. I was obligated to describe it accurately. Considering the power in the visual image, a viewer might believe as truth everything I put down on canvas to describe this historical scene. I needed to see for myself firsthand the place where it all happened…
The painting was completed in December of 2014, spanning a total of 5 years from start to finish. Greater Love Hath No Man will be on permanent display at the LDS Church History Museum in Salt Lake City, Utah beginning fall of 2015.
Every day we’re faced with a seemingly constant assortment of images, video, music, and spoken word that influences our every action and how we live our daily lives; some good, some bad, each one having an influence on the choices we make. And in thinking about all those influences around us, I began to think about those who came before us who have had a significant impact on our world today. Without each of their influences on us, the way we live our lives would not be the same.
“Influential Figures” is a series of portraits of a few prominent people in our recent history who, through following their passions and pursuing what they believed in, have influenced the manner in which our world functions today. Even though many of these individuals faced difficult challenges and hardships, they overcame obstacles and setbacks to ultimately change the course of history and alter the way we conduct our lives. In beginning this series, I was tempted to include individuals who had a negative impact on our world as well as those who have influenced our lives for the better. But in the end, I came to the conclusion that those individuals who have helped improve our world should be celebrated more, simply because their positive influences were more difficult ones. It is much easier to tear down than it is to build up…
To learn more about Casey, access videos, and view his accomplished work, visit his website at: http://www.caseychilds.com