Aung San Suu Kyi & Dalai Lama Paintings
Dalai Lama & Aung San Suu Kyi Birthday paintings by Chadwick & Spector
Today is Burma's Prime Minister Elect, Aung San Suu Kyi's 64th Birthday. She's been in the news a lot over the past several years, as she is not only the leader of the National League of Democracy, a pro-democracy activist and a Nobel Peace Prize winner (1991), but she's also been under house arrest for more than 13 years and is currently facing an additional five years in prison for supposedly violating her house arrest. There are numerable articles and international press relaying her story to the world.
Four years ago, on her 60th birthday, which preceeded the birthday of the Dalai Lama, who on that year celebrated his 70th birthday, my collaborator and I decided to paint pictures celebrating their strength and inspiration that they provide not only for their nations, but for supporters of their cause of peace around the world.
Having created an entire series of"Pop Nouveau Poster Paintings", which were inspired orignially by the posters of France in the early 1920's-40's, blended with themes of Asia (since we have lived in Thaliand for a number of years), we thought it appropriate to continue working in our field of interest. However, for these posters, we were immediatley reminded of the strength of the orignal, "We Can Do It!" postef from WWII, based on J. Howard Miller's poster depicting a portrait of Geraldine Doyle which became iconic in its support for the war effort.
While we as artists aren't supporting a war effort, we are supporting a peace effort and we wanted to depict a visually compelling image in support of these two leaders who have worked and suffered so selflessly in order to bring peace to their nations. Though we are not political artists by trade, in this case, we wanted to create something positive that people of all nationalities could easily understand.
Since we have been living in Chiang Mai, Thailand, the Aung San Suu Kyi poster has been receiving much more recognition than the Dalai Lama, who seems so far away from our location. Peoples realms of interest lay primarliy with what is going on in our neighboring country. With several refugee camps located nearby, housing hundreds of thousands of people who cannot go home, nor are wanted here, the Suu Kyi poster has certainly become more relevant in our nearby locale.
Since we reproduced the paintings into posters, the Suu Kyi poster was featured on "The Back Page" in Irrawaddy Magazine, (An independent news publication that raises awareness about Burma-related issues through unbiased reporting from a Burmese perspective)
In 2008, right after Hurricane Nargis destroyed a vast amount of land on Burma's coast, we created a fundrasier, "The Speed of Sound" to help raise money for victims. We donated the proceeds to The Free Burma Rangers, (FBR), who are a multi-ethnic humanitarian service movement. They train people to go into villages that are under attack to bring supplies. Through their organization, we were contacted by the US Campaign For Burma, (USCB), a U.S.-based organization that empowers grassroots activists around the world to bring about an end to the military dictatorship in Burma. They have reproduced the image on t-shirts, to help spread the word.
We are very happy that our initial efforts to spread around an easy to understand image has spread so vast and have included and inspired so many people. There are many offices around town and Burmese friends who have hung the posters or are wearing the t-shirts, travelers who have found posters in Thailand to bring back to their native countries and people interested in the cause of Democracy finding the images online in order to help educate and inspire change.
The images have become symbolic for voices who cannot speak. As artists, it is more than we could have hoped for.
If you are interested in viewing a poster, please visit:
Or, to see more of our Pop Nouveau Poster Paintings, visit the Chadwick & Spector website.