JOLIET – Pastor Lonnie Posley squeezed a gob of finger paint onto a visitor’s hand and began using a roller to cover the palm and fingers.
“Spread your hand out when you set it down,” Posley advised.
The handprint could go in any open space on the 4-by-6-foot canvas. When visitors have left enough prints, Posley will link the red, yellow, blue and green marks with painted branches so they become leaves. Two canvases of branches will be placed atop another canvas of a trunk and make a tree.
Posley, pastor of New Canaan Christian Church, believes exposure to art is one of the best healing tools next to medicine. Next month, Posley will transport the piece to Dallas, where it will be donated to the police department.
The work will honor five officers slain July 7 in an ambush shooting by a lone black gunman who told police he wanted to kill white cops – and proceeded to do so – as a protest against the killing of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota by police.
“My goddaughter lives in Dallas and knew some of those officers personally,” Posley said. “We shouldn’t use art just to make money, we can ... help hurting individuals.”
On Friday, Posley asked Joliet police officers to visit the church and leave their handprint and signature. He’ll also invite community leaders and “anyone else who wants to show support” to do the same in the next two weeks.
Posley uses trees as his motif because the roots and trunk show foundation and growth, the limbs show the benefit of spreading out to God and mankind, and the leaves are a sign of life.
Over the past few years, Posley has painted trees for the victims of the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, and the family of Trayvon Martin, who was fatally shot in Sanford, Florida. He also plans to paint trees to honor the men killed in Louisiana and Minnesota.
“All lives matter. Once a life is gone, it’s gone. Not a black life, a white life, a Hispanic life,” Posley said.
“It was a life and it shouldn’t end in violence.”
Those wishing to take part in the painting project can contact New Canaan Christian Church at 225 E. Clinton St. in Joliet or call the church at 815-726-0945.