DULUTH -- After two hijacked jets roared into the north and south towers of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, killing all passengers on board and more than 2,000 men and women working in the buildings, about 860 miles away a Duluth artist found she had lost her desire to paint.
As time went by and the tragic events of that fateful day gave way to eventual cleanup at the site now known as Ground Zero, Kathy Fincher came to a realization: She had a responsibility to continue her work of showing the world how precious children are through the scenes she captures on canvas.
A renowned children's painter, Fincher has dedicated her artistic talent to capturing children on the brink of discovery.
Following the events of 9/11, and that realization, Fincher took out a canvas.
"How can you take every emotion that I've been through, and we've been through, and, my goodness, how can you simplify that into a painting ... of genuine hope for the future?" she remembered asking herself.
She decided an American flag had to be incorporated into the painting to represent freedom. And a cross, she said, to represent faith.
The rectangle that became the flag and the shape of a cross became the foundation on which Fincher created the painting she named "The Dream Keepers," her message of faith and freedom.
After finishing the painting, which captures a moment in time as seven children lend their creative, artistic abilities to create a flag made from their own hand prints and a banner on which the words "God Bless America" are drawn with care, Fincher awoke in the middle of the night with a revelation.
"The painting was meant to be seen," she remembered telling her husband, Jef. "It was meant to go to Washington, the White House."
The painting was an eventual gift for then-First Lady Laura Bush. Former President George W. Bush accepted the gift on his wife's behalf. Fincher and her family traveled to the White House, where they presented the painting to the president inside the Oval Office.
"This was just a beautiful message of faith and freedom of children and families coming together to share the importance of our flag and faith," Fincher said of the painting, which inspired a sculpture in her "Mama Says" product line that is now being sold in Cracker Barrel gift shops. "Mama says the hearts and hand prints of her children will uphold the American dream."
To view more of Fincher's work, visit her website at www.kathyfincher.com.