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It was over thirty years ago when I read Emma Goldman’s memoir. She connected me to such a cast of great actors and thinkers in the world: Lenin, Margaret Sanger, Simone Weil, Mahatma Gandhi, John Reed, Sasha Berkman, Peggy Guggenheim, Jackson Pollock, Peter Kropotkin, and others. She was pivotal in my maturing to be a more compassionate person, and eventually a Socialist.

You can read her Wikipedia entry to get just a smidgen of the activities she was involved in and the lives she touched. She had been abused and misused by men all her life, starting with her father, yet she loved a few men and was loyal to a fault in her lifetime.

I set out to attempt to paint Emma smiling. There is not a single extant photograph of her smiling, yet her most famous quote is when she said to V.I. Lenin: “If I can’t dance I don’t want to be part of your revolution!” This was when she arrived in Russia shortly after the Bolshevik revolution and wanted to celebrate, but Lenin told her, “Dancing is bourgeois!” I have been sitting across the room (about 11′ feet away) at eye level with Emma. She stares piercingly. She is both solid as a rock and on the verge of a flood of tears. This effect is quite accidental or subconscious on my part but it is quite haunting.

Painting is acrylic on 11″ x 14″ stretched canvas.

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Albums: Paintings
Location: Perkasie, PA


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