Based on ‘The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas’ by Ursula K. Le Guin
Sumi ink, pencil, pastel, digital
10 x 14" (2018)
Created at the Illustration Master Class 2018.
How do we reconcile living at the expense of others suffering? Is the common good always justified? And what does it take to walk away from a utopia predicated upon injustice?
Those are questions posed by Le Guin in her haunting story which has stayed with me ever since I read it. I chose to illustrate it as my assignment for the Illustration Master Class in June, and learned so much from working on it: about getting to the emotional heart of a story, handling ink, looking for the unexpected moment.
While painting, I thought a lot about the seven indigenous Orang Asli children who had run away from their abusive school environment in 2015; five of them perished in the jungle and only two were found seven weeks later, thanks to a combination of negligence and disinterest by the authorities. That is the kind of injustice questioned by the ones who walk away from Omelas.
Thanks to all of the instructors for your insight, feedback, and encouragement, without which this piece would have been very different. And to my fellow artists, whose work inspires me every day.