Oil on linen, 2004
Collection of the artist
Shayla is a 14-year-old burn survivor. She was tragically burned when a cigarette lighter was accidentally dropped on her bed, setting her sheets on fire. She was eight years old at the time. Shayla is an amazing young girl. She lost her fingers in the fire, yet manages to play the piano and braid hair. She is top in her class in many activities, including crafts and cheerleading. Shayla has had to learn to grow up different than her classmates and friends. She has had to endure being made fun of and stared at by the other kids. She has also had to endure the pain and trauma of her burns and recovery from her injuries. Shayla has a sense of grace and wisdom beyond her years. I see her as beautiful. Shayla is part of a ten-painting series titled “State of Grace.” I am creating these portraits with the help of the Burn Center at the St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, NJ. In making paintings of these brave people, I hope to challenge our traditional notions of beauty. I also hope to have the young burn survivor volunteers see their own unique beauty, and inspire others who are different to live productive lives. "State of Grace" can be viewed at www.dougauld.com.