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Special Report from Arts Specialist Carole MikitaPortrait of an artist: as she works, as she surveys her work, approaching the painting with confidence and inspiration. This piece comes also from the heart. Kaziah Hancock is creating a work of remembrance-- a fallen soldier who lost his life in the war with Iraq.
"I love every one of these guys, you know. I really do, bless their hearts," she says.
Kaziah was inspired by the determined young men and women who gave up everything precious to serve their country. Now, she will paint each one.
"I pray for guidance and inspiration, and I hope that what I do is acceptable to this gentleman, as well as to members of his family," Kaziah says.
Portrait painting came very naturally to her. She's been watching faces all her life.
"Ever since I was a little girl," she explains. "I was very timid, and my favorite place to be when company came was hiding underneath the table, peering out, where nobody could specifically focus on me, but I could focus on them."
The desire to paint emerged slowly. For years, Kaziah believed it was but a dream. At age 15 she was given in marriage to a polygamist. She was his third wife. She stayed for 18 years.
"When they asked me to marry this guy, I thought, 'Oh man. Well, let's see.' I come up with this cowboy logic, right? 'Well, okay. I can obey him. I can do anything I'm told. But gosh, I don't have to love him,'" she says.
At age 33, Kaziah Hancock laid a plan and escaped.
Carole: "You understand freedom."
"Yes, I do," she answers. "You betcha. And I understand that doesn't always come without a price. Someone has to stand up and face the tyrant and say 'no more.'"
Through intense study, she became an artist, but never gave up the rancher. She showed us around her 15 acres. She lives there with a yard full of noisy chickens and her pride and joy, the goats.
She's known as the goat woman. She has a particular afinity for this species. Kaziah says she's alive today because of goats."
"My mother didn't have any milk in her breasts. And so she had my brother go out and milk the goat," she recounts.
Kaziah tends her flock, helping each nanny give birth.
It is with that kind of devotion that she paints. Kaziah says she doesn't care how long it takes.
"Every image that I have the privilege of portraying, I will paint with all the honor and dignity that they deserve," she says.
With this labor of love, she hopes simply and beautifully to say thank you.
Kaziah Hancock's work is hanging in the Springville Museum of Art and is sold at Utah Artist Hands in Salt Lake City. For more information see the link in the box above.