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"The Accused": My Witch Project

I wasn't always interested in witches, but when you live just 25 miles north of Salem, Massachusetts, and start to become more interested in the metaphysical, this city's history is bound to lure you to cobblestone streets. During the last few years, I've researched the history of the Salem Witch Trials in 1692, and I feel great pathos for the people accused and executed of witchcraft during that time. I've also been more openminded and have explored what it means to be a witch now. I knew I wanted to honor the people that were accused in Salem in some way. I thought about making portraits of the accused, in order to make each more than just a name. In my research, I was particularly heartbroken by the history of Dorcas Good, a 4 1/2 year old accused being a witch during the Salem Witch Trials: I learned about her when my youngest daughter, Dorrit, was 4.  Naturally, I couldn't help but put Dorrit in her little shoes! (And their names are just so errily similar!) I wondered if other children were accused of witchcraft during the 17th century. When I did a quick search online, I found something completely disturbing:  Children are presently being accused of witchcraft! In this century!

updated Dorcas 1692.jpeg

Dorcas in 1962, 2023. Oil on canvas, 60" x 48"

Dorcas in 2015, 2023. Oil on canvas, 60"x 48" 

I credit photographer, Roland Hoskins for the photo reference.

Artist as Agnes Sampson in 1591, 2023

Oil on canvas, 48" x 36"

Therese in 2015, 2023.  Oil on canvas, 48"x 36".

I credit photographer, Roland Hoskins for the photo reference. 

Children currently being accused of witchcraft was brought to the world's attention about 10 years ago. It's happening to children, especially those with disabilities or illnesses, widowed women, and the elderly in several countries in Africa, parts of India, and places in South America. They're accused of causing their families' misfortunes and either beaten by family members to rid them of the witch - sometimes to death! - and/or a witch doctor or priest  maybe called to perform an exorcism in order to beat the witch out of the children. Some of these witch doctors are charlatans, charging huge fees. Thereafter, the kids are still cast out on the street, because the family doesn't want anything to do with witchcraft...and can't pay for an extra mouth to feed. (some of these are babies!...2 years old!) They're cultures with deep rooted beliefs that witches are to blame for any problems, living in poor, uneducated communities.

In the last 10 years, organizations have formed and laws have been passed to prevent families from accusing their children of witchcraft. Community programs have been created to try to educate the villagers that their children are not causing their illness...that their children are not the cause of rats chewing their toes! Shelters and homes have been created to help these children, so that they don't have to fear of being beaten with a machete. BUT, it is still happening.  While I was looking at articles about these children, I came across a photo of an 8 year old girl, accused of being a witch in the Democratic  Republic of Congo, named DORCAS!! (WHAT??? Who is named Dorcas in this century???) I took that as a MAJOR sign that I needed to begin this project. 

I plan to portray the people accused of witchcraft in 1692, next to the people (mainly children) being accused of witch craft in this present time. I want to help these kids by exposing the witch hunts that are still happening. I feel many, who also feel the Salem Witch Trials were totally unjust, and who happily walk around Salem with a witch hat, will want to help these kids too!

I got permission from the photographer, Roland Hoskins to use his photos of Dorcas and her friend, Therese from 2015, as references for the paintings. I applied for a Traveling Fellowship in hope that I could use it travel to Africa to take photos of these children myself, however, I didn't get it.  Thus I'm still looking into ways I can volunteer safely in Africa, as these kids and adults come from very dangerous communities.


I'm still seeking models to represent the people accused of witchcraft in Salem. Women and men. If you feel passionately about their injustices, please contact me.  All ages, ethnicities, and sizes welcome. Maybe you feel connected with one of the accused in particular? Let me know:

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