Blinded by Religion?

Painting by Graydon Parrish, “The Cycle of Terror and Tragedy: September 11, 2001”, in the New Britain (Connecticut) Museum of Art.

 Graydon Parrish’s painting “The Cycle of Terror and Tragedy: September 11, 2001” represents a powerful image presenting a religious conflict to the 9/11 attacks.

When looking at Graydon’s painting, viewers are immediately drawn to the two children holding hands. One boy has red hair and white skin, while the other has dark brown hair and tan skin. The boy with tan skin has a blue blindfold that covers his eyes. He is holding a plane with his left arm and it appears that he is guiding the plane along the skyline. The other boy appears to have his blindfold above his eyes. The vibrant blue color of the boys’ blindfolds draws and captures one’s attention when first looking at the painting. In the background, there are buildings that seem to be burning with dark clouds covering the sky.

Graydon’s painting has a lot of different aspects that allows the viewers to have different interpretations. The blindfolds are a major factor of this painting. The red-haired child’s blindfold is over his eyes, which means he can see. One may interpret that Graydon purposely did this to show that religion doesn’t blind him and he has a sense of personal direction. On the contrary, the blindfold is completely covering the eyes of the other boy. This leads one to interpret that he doesn’t have his own virtues in life and he is following society’s path and not his own. Graydon also illustrates the young boy holding a plane as if he is guiding it along the skyline. I believe he used a young boy to do this rather than an older man to demonstrate that he is already becoming accustomed to his country’s religious values. He has grown up with a society that blinds people with its strict beliefs and has enough influence over them to convince others that it is their religious duty to take thousands of lives.

The burning buildings in the background aren’t the first things that capture the observer’s attention, but they are certainly one of the most important parts of the illustration. Its shows the darkest part of the attacks, an icon of the New York City being burned down along with people inside of it. In saying, why didn’t he use different color shading to bring out the buildings? Personally, I believe it is because Graydon wants to focus the viewer’s attention on a problem we can fix, rather than something we cannot. Instead of focusing on the damage that was done in the 9/11 attacks, Graydon wants us to spend our time looking at things we can change, like our relationship with other countries.

Creative Commons License
Blinded by Religion? by Robbie Nick is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 United States License.


  1. You chose a really powerful painting and really brought out a good point that the artist is trying to focus on the problems that are possible to fix. I didn’t think of that when I first looked a the image so when I read that I was really impressed that you thought of that. One thing- if you post the creative commons license in the “text” section instead of the “visual” section when editing your curation then it will come up as an icon on the bottom of your curation instead of a bunch of text.

    Also, in the second paragraph you said that the blindfold is covering the red haired boys eyes but in the first paragraph you said that it was above his eyes so that was probably just a typo.

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