In late March (2005) I did some preliminary drawings for my "Blue Man's Diary" series of paintings. One of them, "All Things Connected" was a mystery to me. It was also one of the most noticed studies that I did.
While most of the Blue Man Diary drawings were related to philosophy or daily meditation, "All Things Connected" was different. The Blue Man had lost a close friend and he mourned the loss. But in confronting his grief he discovered that his friend was not really gone. Instead, his friend was more omnipresent than ever - surrounding the Blue Man. He found his friend in music, plants, the stars, the sun and throughout the Universe. A wand lay on the ground, the wand of Peace, Tolerance and Love. Why was it on the ground? I couldn't answer that question and I didn't know who had died.
Until April 17 when I learned that Marla Ruzicka and her associate, Faiz Al Salaam had died in Iraq. Then I understood the study I had done in preparation for a large painting. Suddenly, everything dropped into place.
I did not know Marla personally. I only know her through the work she has done. She founded CIVIC, Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict. She was in Iraq, helping the victims of the Iraq war and trying to establish the number of civilian casualties that are a continuing result of that war. Her friend, Faiz, also worked for CIVIC.
Marla was 28 years old. She had already worked with AIDS victims in Zimbabwe, refugees in Palestine, and campesinos in Nicaragua. Following the US invasion of Afghanistan, Marla traveled to Afghanistan with a Global Exchange delegation and she was so moved by the plight of the civilian victims that she dedicated the rest of her too-short life to helping innocent victims of war. She was on a similar mission in Iraq when she met with her untimely death.
She is missed. The world is a better place because of the path she chose.
As for my painting:
The rainbow-coloured wand that lies on the ground in the painting will be picked up by another...and another. For all things are truly connected. I can feel Marla in the warmth of the sun, hear her in the music I listen to, see her in the stars at night, and touch her in the plants that surround me here in Northern California.
The painting is owned by the artist and has been in multiple exhibitions - from San Francisco to Redding, California. The art was also used on the cover of a book about the Iraq war, Brother Eagle, Sister Moon. The book is about an Iraqi family during this occupation of Iraq and was inspired by Marla's work. One of the characters in the book is modeled after Marla. The purpose of the book is to show what life is like in Iraq at this time and help those who are curious understand the impact of this conflict - on families - and on military personnel - as well as on those who have chosen to go to Iraq in a non-military, non-governmental capacity.
Anyone who wants a small print of the painting (with the inscription: In Memory of Marla Ruzicka, as seen at the top of this page) is welcome to email a request to me. There is no charge. Email: email@example.com
Canvas is 3x4 feet
Phil Dynan, artist and author, ran for California State Assembly in 2006 - something he would never had done without being inspired by the work of Marla Ruzicka. Phil ran as a candidate for the California Peace & Freedom Party and kept the issues of ending the war in Iraq, Universal Health Care and Election Reform at the forefront of the campaign. More about Phil and his art at: www.PhilDynan.com