I created this artwork in 2009 for the family of Keith O’Rielly, a J-1 student from Galway, Ireland here on a J-1 visa for the summer. For the last fifteen years or so “J-1ers” have been coming to Chicago to get a taste of America and a big city experience. In the summer of ‘09, Keith and a couple friends went out the Lake to watch the sunrise. He jumped off the North Ave pier for fun and severely injured his neck and spine. He died at the hospital a couple days later. I had only met him a few times but was friends with many of his fellow J-1ers, some very close to him. I wanted to help in some way and many of the local Irish pubs, some of which I knew well, were all in to help out and put together a fundraiser to help his family’s travel expenses as well as the shipping of his remains back home to Ireland. This piece was made for the event, mostly with brushes and some pen work, to be auctioned at the fundraiser. The first print made from this piece I sent to his parents in Galway with an inscription of a poem he wrote during what happened to be his final days. From his family in Chicago to his family back in Ireland.
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