top of page

The Secret Suffering of the Modern Child

Updated: Mar 14, 2021

by Jake Goertzen (1996)


The following is an attempt to provide a context for the body of my art which has to I call "to Love a Child". Many people have reacted warmly and emotionally to the work. One man told me he hardly slept one night thinking about one particular piece. Both men and women have told me they wept over some of the pieces; some when the bond of love in some of the pieces reminded them of how beautiful it might have been. Children react strongly to the art while many adults do not know what to make of it.

I entered two of my pieces in a juried art show with apparently highly qualified jurors. They rejected my work in their detailed critique on technical matters. Their remarks revealed, however, that they had not understood the work. One gallery refused to show my work and had no comment; and a second responded that their staff did not want to look at such depressing work. They wanted to show art that was positive; that there was already too much suffering in the world. If looking at the art is depressing, imagine the life of the child who is living in that reality every day! If art is about anything, it is about the courage to face reality. If it does not have this, it is kitsch or simple decoration.

By providing this context, I will also address the question raised by an analogy someone has used: that our mental health solutions are like fishing bodies out of the river without asking where the bodies are coming from.