Yesterday I interviewed artist Russell Wray (Hancock, Maine) on my public access TV show called This Issue. He brought along this piece of sculpture that he made depicting a Cuvier's beached whale and two women in deep sorrow - he calls it Lamentation. The sculpture was made from one piece of cherry wood.
Russell described how this particular breed of whales are often impacted by Navy sonar.
Russell was arrested the last two times we held a non-violent civil disobedience action at Bath Iron Works during a 'christening' of a new destroyer.
Russell was highly motivated to stand in resistance because of his deep love and connection with all sea life - much of his art work is centered around whales and dolphins. Over the years he has become an expert on the effects of Navy sonar on sea life. Thus his creation of the organization called COAST (Citizens Opposing Active Sonar Threats).
During the taping of the TV show Russell also talked about going to Jeju Island, South Korea a couple years ago with a Veterans For Peace delegation that I helped to organize. While there he was angered by the destruction of the fishing and farming village by the Navy as they blasted the sacred rocky coastline with dynamite and then poured concrete to make docks for warships.
He learned about the endangered Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins that would daily circle Jeju Island and which surely will be negatively impacted by Navy sonar as US and South Korean warships port at the new base.
During our last couple of Maine Peace Walks Russell has fully participated in the organizing of those events that took our messages through the state. He painted incredible banners that he mounted on a van and carefully placed the dolphin Maka that he sculpted on top of the vehicle as well. We used the van to shuttle walkers and you can imagine how people's eyes were drawn to these images. (Click on the photos for a better view.)
Years ago while working for Greenpeace Russell pulled Maka on an environmental walk all the way across the US. So he has a long relationship with Maka.
Russell is an extraordinarily gifted artist who puts his talents to use as an activist as well. I've been lucky to visit his home in Hancock where he has a gallery full of magnificent wooden sculptures. You can see them by clicking on his web site here
We are lucky to have Russell as a friend and a fellow peace worker - there are few people who have devoted their life so fully to protecting nature and sea life the way he has done for so many years.
I should be able to post our interview here on the blog in another week or so. You will want to watch it for sure.