Sitting in her studio in downtown Colorado Springs, Lindsay Hand glances at her array of life-sized oil paintings ornamenting the cozy room. It's a matter of finding that common denominator and personalizing it, says the 30-year-old, full-time artist.
"When I'm looking at a picture of someone I don't know, I don't know their religious or political beliefs," Hand notes. "But so much is said through body language and facial expression, I can get certain hints."
For the past two months, she has had her hands full — and her pants and boots paint-speckled — creating 11 colossal paintings of the victims whose blood seeped into the soil of Ludlow a century ago. The number pays tribute to the 11 children who were among the casualties.
The subject first came to Hand through a private commission several years ago, and stuck in her mind. So she pitched the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum on the idea of combing through museum archives and bringing some historical photos to life on canvas. The completed works will serve as a dramatic backdrop to the Pioneers Museum's own exhibit of historical artifacts, helping fill out Memories of a Massacre: Perspectives on Ludlow.
Hand chose to focus her work on the personal stories, rather than the overarching political turbulence. The result is startling: Her signature use of yellows and browns, and suggestive brush strokes, illustrate the hardscrabble life of the era, as well as an undercurrent of deep-seated tension.
"I was intrigued by the lives of the miners and their families," she says, "and their courage to live in tents during the winter and to stand for their basic rights, potentially sacrificing their lives."
Wanting to help out with costs and make her prints more accessible and affordable, she launched a Kickstarter project to seek out funding support. As of press time, Hand had long exceeded her goal and raised $2,760.