Saturday, July 14, 2012

"Is Dan Lietha in a Wheelchair?"

Last Sunday a couple of Creation Museum staff members told me that they'd been asked by some visitors to the museum if I was in a wheelchair. In fact, the people asking the question said they were currently having a debate in their family over this question. This puzzled me. What would cause anybody to think that I use a wheelchair? 

Admittedly, as a cartoonist/illustrator, I sit for a living and that's one thing about my profession that I don't particularly care for because of what it does to a person's body. Late last year I had a solution to my sitting all day problem, but things changed and that's not possible anymore. The only time I'd actually sat in a wheelchair in the last two or three decades was a little over a year ago when I was in the hospital for an appendectomy. Actually, now that I think about it, I was wheeled around twice during that hospital stay. The first ride was up to my room and the second wheelchair excursion delivered me to the exit doors so I could leave the hospital. The second ride, with me minus a very grumpy appendix, was MUCH better than the first ride, let me tell ya!

Now, I know that nobody took my picture during either of those wheelchair rides. So how is it that visitors to the Creation Museum would ask if I was in a wheelchair? After pondering this I thought of some photos that were taken of me drawing caricatures in Washington DC at the NEA conference. Photos that I posted to this very blog in my previous entry. The chair in question is one that I've used since the early 1990's to draw caricatures. If you see a photo of me sitting in it, without seeing the lower part of the chair, like the photo to the left, it could easily be mistaken for a wheelchair. Back up the camera and you can see that my chair is in fact, just a chair. It's funny that in all the years that I've sat in this chair, I've never come across this situation. Maybe I need to get a new caricature chair! It is getting pretty old.

So, to add further clarification, below you will find a photo of me not sitting, a rarity for sure. This photo was taken on the same day as the sitting photo that was, to my best guess, in question.  I hope this information and these photos are a comfort to all those that may have thought the same thing about my chair. Currently I'm walking, standing and even jogging (to the fridge) quite well. 

For the family that asked about me at the Creation Museum, thank you for your concern. I appreciate it very much! And thanks too for providing me with something to write about on my blog. :-) I hope you liked reading this entry as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Also, if there is anybody out there that would like to help me to be able to stand while I illustrate, I'd welcome a donation of the following art/computer desk or another product like it. But for now, without such a desk, when I illustrate, I sit. I can do no other.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Drawing a Crowd at the NEA Convention!

This past weekend (June 30-July 2nd) The National Education Association had their annual convention and this year it was in Washington DC. For the past 16 years or so, Answers in Genesis has participated in an outreach to the NEA at this yearly convention. Each year AiG makes an eye-catching banner with a slogan on it designed to capture the attention of attendees as they pass by the Creation Science Educators Caucus booth and a number of AiG staff as well as volunteers hand out materials and engage many in challenging conversation about various biblical issues, especially origins and salvation. It's quite an exciting and stretching time. See Ken Ham's blog report on this outreach here.

Late last year I mentioned that maybe they could use a caricature artist (me) at the NEA outreach this upcoming year. Those in leadership thought it was a good idea and as a result, my family and I got to go to DC this year.

We arrived at our DC hotel Friday night after a 9-10 hour drive from Northern Kentucky. That night as I was putting some final touches on my caricature signs, the power went out. Not a welcome situation as I had much yet to do, but this was merely a small inconvenience compared to the big picture of all that happened that night.  A terrible storm with gale-force winds hit the DC area leaving millions without power and no air-conditioning. This was a disaster for a weekend with temperatures around 100 degrees. At last report, I heard that 15 people died in that storm or in the aftermath of it. Thankfully, the power at our hotel was restored later that day.

On Saturday morning the outreach began at 9:00 by completing our set up of the booth and I finished taping together my caricature signs. When NEA attendees and vendors saw that caricatures were being offered for FREE, they began waiting before I had my easel and supplies in place to begin drawing. 

There were certainly those that came by our booth and were less than happy to see us at the convention. One man even had a protest sign and paced back and forth in front of our booth until he was removed by security. Some attendees argued and others looked annoyed as they passed by, but there were many others that engaged our people in open and willing discussion. I also chatted with many, many people as I drew their faces. AiG had provided quite a lot of my After Eden books among the free materials that we handed out and this was a popular and natural bridge for me to speak to my caricature subjects about what I do, why I do it and the thinking behind what I do. Even a cartoon book can be a witnessing tool for Christ! 

After a little over 2 full days of drawing, the grand total of people drawn was … drum roll please … 116! Yes, I counted. It was a challenge for me in many ways. My purpose in being there was to attract a crowd and that certainly worked. I had people lined up that waited 1.5 hours for me to draw their picture. WOW! The challenge wasn't just talking to the people that would come and sit in front of me, but that growing line of people to my right was a constant source of pressure. My desire was to say something meaningful to each person that sat in my chair and I had the opportunity to do that with a lot of them, but in the end, I shortened my drawing time to make sure the line didn't get too long and the wait too great. The line did however, provide a population for those I was with, to engage a literally captive audience as they waited for their turn to get a free caricature. So I did draw a crowd and I drew a crowd too!

Please pray for the people we were able to speak to and the thousands of dollars worth of materials that went out as well.