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David Hicock

Frederick Douglass
spoke as cheering thousands sang
under this same sky

I've always been fascinated with the 1860s and the Civil War. Thus Frederick Douglass became one of my heroes. When I came to Syracuse after growing up in Connecticut, I was delighted to find that he was a presence here. He was somebody who inspired a lot of people and blew away many of the perceptions about black people of the time. He was erudite, well spoken, made good arguments and lived by his brain.

For the illustration, I liked the imagery of words and singing becoming part of the sky. I sought to do that by having the sheet music be reminiscent of the birds taking off into the sky. Douglass for me is too seldom though of in color, and I felt it was important for young people to feel the reality of Douglass as still relevant today.

Tigers caged in glass
Stare back in equal wonder
Whose gaze is captive?

Creatures have always been magnetic for me, and I’ve always been fascinated with cats. If I wasn’t allergic to them, I’d probably have one. Their aloofness appeals to me. Some people it puts off. But for me, it means they’re still wild, whereas a dog is not.

In this instance, I had a picture in my head that related to my daughter, way back when she was a two-year-old. We took her to the Rosamond Gifford Zoo, and she sat on the edge of the mountain lion cage. It was the first big cat she had ever seen, and she was absolutely amazed.

For this image, I went to the zoo and to the tiger cage, and revisited that memory of a child’s love and fascination for nature. It took me back to when my daughter was two and further still, back to my own wonderment as a child.


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