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While working in the art department for children’s books at G.P. Putman & Sons I was struck by an article in the New York Times about a young girl 13, stuck up to her neck in water and rubble, the result of a volcanic eruption in Colombia, who died after 3 days attempted rescue. Her photo by the French photographer, Frank Fournier, taken as she was dying, accompanied the article. He later won the Pulitzer for his photographs of her. For days, she stared into a news camera with the entire world watching. Her name was Omayra Sanchez.


From the first charcoal sketch using her photograph as inspiration, I began a series of drawings, prints, a wall piece, and oil paintings collectively titled OMAYRA.

Forms found in nature have always been at the heart of my approach to Art making.  If a painting can be thought of having its own anatomy, it might also have other attributes - skin, veins, flesh, organs and bones.  From my initial emotional response to Omayra’s tragically short life, through the mystery that is Art, I hope that with this series, the memory of one person’s existence will have not been in vain. The inspiration taken from her life symbolizing the unforeseen tragedies of nature and the ongoing horrors caused by man led to the creation of The OMAYRA Series.

The wall piece titled OMAYRA is an example of my metaphor for painting or wall piece having its own anatomy. A hexagon grid is the underlying skeleton of the wall piece followed by the outlines of the paper mache shapes that are the muscles and organs of the wall piece. Cheese cloth, paper mache and old New York Times newspapers (1938 up to September 3rd, 1939, the declaration of war in Europe) form the skin of the OMAYRA wall piece. 


                                                                     Werner Thomas, October 2017

Omayra Wall Piece

Artist at work on Brown Omayra I
on vertical lazy Susan

Omayra Print Series

White Omayra with Black Skulls I - Detail

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