The Ballerina, Declassified

The Ballerina, Declassified, 2006

The Ballerina, Declassified, 2006
Digital painting based on a photo from the Hanford Declassified Project.

Lightbox enlargement

Read the introduction to the Remixing the Hanford Declassified Project paintings

A child ballerina performs at the Hanford Theater during the WWII years. Her family would have been involved, in some capacity, in the production of the plutonium used in the Fat Man bomb dropped on Nagasaki. She didn’t know this. Nor did her family. They wouldn’t learn what the war effort at Hanford involved until after the bombing. Not being privy to the facts, the ballerina’s parents hadn’t even the opportunity to make a choice as to their involvement in the creation of Fat Man, which was not only dropped on Nagasaki, it was dropped on humanity at large and the whole of the planet.

As Oppenheimer famously said:

Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds…

Based on the below photo:

Talent Show Ballerina
Girl Dancing
DDRS Record Details for Record Accession Number
Accession Number N1D0024930
Document Number D-5440-NEG
Alternate Document Number D-5440-NEG
Title Description GIRL DANCING
Number of Pages 1
Key Word(s)
Document Date 04-Dec-2001
Public Availability Date 14-Feb-2002

11 Replies to “The Ballerina, Declassified”

  1. In looking at this finished art of yours I was curious about your source. I know you’ve worked from photos so I wondered how much you’d added. I went back and looked at the Hanford part of your website, and note that the girl is the beginning point but the rest is of your own inventing. When I’d looked at the finished image, what I noted at first was how much that wave evokes Hiroshige’s image of the wave, and that the girl seems to be dancing with the wave. That was what I felt drawn to and noticed the most. And then slowly that bomb came to my attention in the upper reaches of the image, hanging there, ominous even as it is depicted in a color-yellow- that seems cheerful. Very intriguing combination of elements, so you’ve got this innocence and creativity of the girl, combined with the power and beauty of the wave and this looming presence–Japan and the US, innocence and art and imminent destruction…

    Oh, and I like the new name of your blog. As I was about to go to your blog I was thinking of your old new name, Idyllopuspress is so damn bored, and thinking that’s funny, and expecting to see that across the top of the window and then, voila, something new!

  2. the wave looks like a Hokasai (sp?)….is it….I used to find some of his prints in old Japanese magazines when I lived in Monterey…I had a friend who delt in old prints and papers etc, and I used to help her find them….he was facinating

  3. But Gin, I can and do make mistakes. I have just tried looking this up and I come up with images that are attributed to both Hokusai and Hiroshige. So now I’m not sure! But I’m thinking you may be right, that it is Hokusai, though it looks like Hiroshige did some woodcuts that were also of waves.

  4. Nina, yes. I started off with the ballerina on the Hanford stage. That’s all that was in the original declassified photo. In the painted I added in the Hiroshige Hokusai style wave, and the bomb. All intended to be received much as you have interpreted it. And I appreciate your noting your thoughts.

    One wonders about what became of some of these people in the pictures, most of them unidentified.

  5. Gin, you’re right.

    I didn’t recollect the name either and was writing back before I saw Gin’s response and had let my response sit there a while because I’m working on another painting and getting H.o.p. lunch and then remembered my response sitting there and clicked it through and then saw Gin’s response and then Nina’s response.

    But Nina, I was confident you would know! See how I trust you?

    And I trust Gin.

    Two people I trust.

    Gin, your name has made it into my new novel. They’re not very likeable characters (two of them). They’re not you.

  6. That is some amazing work! I always love ballerina art. You have no idea how excited I was to see the wax prototype for Degas’ Dancer at the Musee Dorsay in Paris.

    It was truly a delightful event.

  7. I hope not to betray that trust! I do always try to own my mistakes. No shame in being wrong.

    And speaking of wars and their fallout, Ellen received a phone call this evening, when she wasn’t at home. From a Marine recruiter. I was so mad that I wrote something about it at my blog. I told Ellen after she got home and she told me something she’d not told me before that made me feel even more disgusted and angry with recruitment tactics. My daughter may not be a ballerina, but somehow your image of the girl and what is about to drop on her, that somehow taps into my feelings about my own daughter and not wanting her to be exploited. Nor anyone else’s children, either.

  8. The ASVAB

    In addition, the federal No Child Left Behind Act requires schools that receive federal funding to provide military recruiters with students’ names, addresses and phone numbers unless parents have opted out. Schools also must allow recruiters to have the same access to campuses that colleges have.

    The military’s vocational aptitude test is not part of the No Child Left Behind requirement, and the test’s “career explorations” Web site says students who agree to take the test aren’t making any obligations.

    I’ve written you.

  9. AG, it’s a haunting, beautiful sculpture, and I can imagine your excitement.

    When I saw the photo of this ballerina I felt a draw to paint her. But it took me around a year before I approached it, because I was worried about how I was going to do it without diminishing her.

  10. whether I am good or bad, I am honored by the inclusion… means my name has crossed your mind….and perhaps lingered

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