Painting Pictures: Rising

Home/africa, Djibouti Life, Expat Thoughts/Painting Pictures: Rising

Painting Pictures: Rising

We’ve got a song for the Third Culture Kid series: Painting Pictures of Egypt by Sara Groves. We’re going to have a movie, I’ll share that at some point (I have one in mind but am open to suggestions). Today I’m giving us a picture.

This painting was done by Graziella LeBlond who was born in Madagascar, went to university and got married in France, and now lives and raises her daughter in Djibouti. The Arabic writing across the top says, “Africa.”

painting1My take on it, is that this is a woman who rises. If I were to title it, I would call it Rising.

She is grounded, rooted deep into the soil. So much that her feet disappear into the earth. She is standing straight and firm, filled with confidence and conviction and she draws this strength from the sense of solidness beneath her feet. She knows where she comes from. She grew slowly, over time, into the person she is. She is leaving behind the earth, but looks ahead without cowering, without hesitating. She knows where she is going.

She carries with her a piece of what once held her, to guide and remind. She is also clothed in the earth, this differentiates her from other women. Though she is equally beautiful, she is unique. She is faceless because she is every woman, she is virtually formless because she represents men as well, and she is bald because her identity doesn’t come from an external or appearance-based aspect. Where she was, where she is, and where she is going are all wrapped up in her sense of personhood.

I interviewed Graziella for an article in the Djibouti Post and asked her about this painting. She explained that the ridges and textures you see (and in person, they are quite obvious), are because to mix her paint she used the actual dirt of Djibouti.

I love that.

So, to me and to relate this painting to our Third Culture Kid series, I see this woman as representing those who feel rooted to one place while moving toward another. I want her to be an image of the strength and courage our TCKs possess and I want the dirt forming her clothing to remind us that it isn’t an easy, clean journey. She has struggled, but she has hope. I want her open face to mark that all are welcome to the conversation.

She is beautiful, dirt and color and walking stick and all.

What else do you see in this painting?


  1. Mary May 20, 2013 at 5:45 am - Reply

    I absolutely love this. I also see a figure of an individual who blends in with the array of colors that are in the foreground. Yet towards the head, this person doesn’t seem to blend as well. This is so symbolic of TCKs. Our multicultural experiences have allowed for us to blend in with many cultures. Yet, we are so unique. I dont know about other TCKs but for me, although I may blend, it doesn’t always feel natural. Regardless of being able to fit in, I also feel like an outsider. It’s a strange dichotomy. And I think this painting depicts that very well.

    • Rachel Pieh Jones
      Rachel Pieh Jones May 20, 2013 at 8:54 am - Reply

      Great thoughts Mary. Fascinating about her head, I totally see that now you mention it.

    • Marilyn Gardner May 20, 2013 at 11:45 am - Reply

      Mary – I so relate with this comment. I look like I belong where I now live, but I feel ‘other’. By contrast in places where I don’t look like I belong I feel completely at home….
      Rachel – I love this picture, love the story behind it and your words on how you picture TCK’s. As an adult TCK I needed this today.

      • Rachel Pieh Jones
        Rachel Pieh Jones May 20, 2013 at 3:35 pm - Reply

        Thanks Marilyn. I’m loving hearing how people are connecting with it too.

  2. richelle @ "our wright"-ing pad May 20, 2013 at 6:55 am - Reply

    the fact that it could be either a sunrise or a sunset… a new beginning or another ending… or both at the same time – seems to characterize well the tck life.

    • Rachel Pieh Jones
      Rachel Pieh Jones May 20, 2013 at 8:54 am - Reply

      Beautiful, Richelle.

  3. Debbie May 20, 2013 at 7:44 am - Reply

    Love this picture and its meaning!

  4. Jamie Wright Bagley May 20, 2013 at 2:41 pm - Reply

    She looks like she is standing on the edge of a great sea. Poised with a staff in a Mosaic reflection- as a deliverer.
    One of her arms seems limp, as though to say we all have our brokenness, but we can still be strong.
    Her strength is implied, to me, by her groundedness. And though I can’t tell which way she faces, my first impression was that it was toward the sunrise, not with her back to it. I guess you can look at it either way. The grip on the staff does imply that she faces us, standing as a guard between her people and the rising tide.
    My husband is a TCK (S.A. and Swazi MK).

    • Rachel Pieh Jones
      Rachel Pieh Jones May 21, 2013 at 4:40 am - Reply

      Love.This. Thanks Jamie.

  5. […] Painting Pictures: Rising […]

  6. […] Painting Pictures: Rising […]

  7. […] Painting Pictures: Rising […]

  8. […] Painting Pictures: Rising […]

  9. […] Every Tuesday since June Djibouti Jones has hosted a post and discussion on Third Culture Kids. […]

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.