Ebony Marshman was so inspired by Anthony Shadid’s work that she painted a portrait of him that was soon discovered by his widow, who requested a copy from the artist. Instead, Marshman will give Nada Bakri the original.
Marshman mixed several photographs of Shadid to create a painting that is on display until the end of the month at Western Kentucky University, where she is a student. “Portrait of a Man with Kind Eyes” got its name from the warmth Marshman saw when The New York Times correspondent was interviewed after being freed from Libya a year ago, where he was held captive with three other journalists. He died in Syria last month while on assignment for The New York Times.
“I remember watching the interview when they returned from Libya after being kidnapped and out of the four, he was the paternal one,” Marshman said in a story for WKU.
She elaborated in an email to me:
Anthony Shadid had such a warmth that resonated beyond print or any form of reporting media. I am not familiar with his entire body of work — it is incredibly extensive — but in the pieces I am familiar with, there’s something very alluring in his reporting. You don’t get the feeling that he feigned interest in the stories he covered.
I don’t know what it’s like to be a foreign correspondent in a conflict zone, but I imagine it’d become easy to start regarding people as components to a story and less as individuals. I think his compassion prevented that.
I think for myself, and many of the strangers who mourn his death, the draw to him/his work is very simplistic. The compassion he had appealed to childlike instincts. You know the way a child can ignore someone who does not have a genuine interest in their learning, progress or well-being? I think that Anthony Shadid cared just as deeply about the people he hoped to reach with his reporting as the people he covered.
Bakri, Shadid’s wife, discovered Marshman’s portrait on Twitter and asked her about it:
— Nada Bakri (@nadabakri) February 26, 2012
Marshman does not know how Bakri found her tweet (which was retweeted a half-dozen or so times), but she hopes to give her the portrait in person. Bakri is currently on tour in the U.S. for Shadid’s posthumous memoir, “House of Stone.”
Marshman graduates in December and plans to take some time off before pursuing an MFA in painting.