By Tanya Hayes Lee | September 10, 2020

A few weeks after lockdown started I made arrangements to vacation on Plum Island on Cape Ann in Massachusetts for two weeks. It was March; surely by July the lockdown would be over and I would go paint on the beach and eat ice cream and lobster rolls, lots of lobster rolls. Lockdown wasn’t over, though, so the much-anticipated trip involved several rounds of texts with my Airbnb host, but finally I was assured that the accommodations would be safe (they were) and off I went.

“Shipwreck” is one of the paintings from that trip. Cape Ann was in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries a center of fishing, whaling, shipbuilding and the East Indies trade. Those industries brought huge fortunes to owners and investors, which are reflected in the architecture of Gloucester, Salem, and Newburyport today.


“Shipwreck,” oil on canvas, 16”x16”x1.5” (2020)

But it’s a rocky New England coast vulnerable to hurricanes and nor’easters. Shipwrecks were inevitable. This painting recalls those long-ago disasters while reflecting on the disaster we find ourselves in the midst of today. This time is nothing if not a shipwreck, a time of devastation, a time of uncertainty when we are left wondering who will survive and who will not, whose fortunes will be lost and whose will weather the storm, a time of prayer and bargaining with the fates, a time of insurmountable grief, a time when hope is all we have to go on.

Copyright © 2020 Tanya Hayes Lee
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