After spending a lot of time considering the notion of shielding, and shields as physical and psychic protection armaments, I created this piece using watercolor pencils on watercolor paper. I wanted to portray the fragility of our physical self, portraying an abstracted version of the body with a specific focus on its important internal organs, placing all of it behind a transparent yet powerful shield. This painting is roughly 8 x 12 inches and was done about five years ago. When I worked at the Art Institute during my lunch breaks I would visit the collections, lingering over the armor section. The armor collection is compellingly striking and it evokes awe and wonder. Feeling vulnerable physically, psychologically and psychically, about five years ago I decided to learn to make different types of armor, using the materials at hand. I also made an intense study of armor and then created a large variety of shields as works-on-paper that also coordinated with a heart series. My plan was to take up blacksmithing. I have written quite extensively about the magickal connections between mysticism and magick with blacksmithing in Africa and the Americas. Blacksmithing was especially important as a trade to early African Americans. I have wanted to make the jump from research and writing about blacksmithing to actually engaging in this craft that held such importance to my ancestors. In a city with the depth of Chicago, thoughts can become actions quite readily. After thinking about blacksmithing for a while, I ran into an old friend from art school that actually opened his own blacksmithing studio in the city. This weekend I ran into another old friend who was wearing chainmail jewelry she had recently created. These events are too auspicious to be coincidence. They call to me to return to shields as an area of artistic exploration. This is probably going to be the year that I go from respecting and reflecting on actual armor to making some 3-d pieces at the very least using silversmithing techniques. In Hoodoo and other spiritual traditions metal plays a very important role, especially with talisman and amulets and there seems to be some kinship to shamanism within some West African cultures. Metal filings are particularly potent and useful, as are coins when making power objects. Looking at this rather personal painting is an inspiration to return to its theme of shields and modes of shielding. Shields and armor are areas that are rich metaphorically, visually and physically. Shields offer all sorts of spiritual benefits as well, to the viewer and artist. Great! This is just what I needed; something new to add to the ever-growing to-do list.