Gilded Chains

Rob Shaw 20” x 24” • Acrylic and Gold Leaf on Canvass

Rob Shaw
20” x 24” • Acrylic and Gold Leaf on Canvass

This piece is about confinement. Having something inside of you that you need to get out but cannot find the proper outlet. I chose to use gold leaf and a monochromatic color scheme. The gold leaf has a prestigious quality to it, at the same time the reflectiveness lets it change under different lighting conditions. I chose the monochromatic color scheme for simplicity so as to not overwhelm the subject. My goal with this piece was to show that we’re all held back by certain things, the trick is to figure out how to overcome these obstacles.

Inspired by the experiences of Joshua Sutton

by Shawn Dickens

“I was trained to do a job. I became proficient at my job. My job wasn’t a regular job, my job was a life-or-death job.”
– Joshua Sutton

He sits in the corner. Muscles like coiled springs ready to release their stored energy sit quivering under the strain of holding back. Surrounded by chain-link fencing and screaming masses he waits. Then, like the shot of a relay race starting pistol, the bell sounds and releases him.


Then like the bonds of Fenrir, the great wolf of Norse mythology, the bell restrains him, back into the corner.

He is little more than a caged animal. No, not a caged animal, because most caged animals have been bred in captivity and are unaware of their true potential. Ignorant of the place where they truly belong.

He is more like a captured animal. A captured animal has felt the morning dew on the grass under their feet; felt the wind on their face as it danced across the landscape. A captured animal knows the thrill of the hunt and yearns for it. When they are captured and placed on display, they remember these things and they long for them. It is a deep longing, one that gnaws at their soul and leaves them forlorn. The same way the wolf yearns for the moon, allowing his mournful cries to echo through the night in the hopes that she hears them.

If you know what to look for, the wild caught animals are easy to spot in captivity, they pace the cage from side to side, unable to stop, unable to accept their new confinement. Their eyes look beyond you, through you, to the place they once called home. A captured animal is not content to lie in the sun as you take pictures through the glass. A captured animal wants to smash the glass and remind you why they call him an animal.

That is what he is now, caged. Confined to this mundane life, in this prison of nine-to-five jobs, utility bills, and household chores. There was a time when he was free. A time years ago when he was surrounded by men of like mind and character who, like him, were bred for the hunt. Lions with rifles who would travel the world to do violent things to their nation’s enemies, and do so with a smile on their face.


Now, most days he sits alone in his home, his rifle long ago turned in to the armory; his uniform packed away in a box in the attic. He sits self-isolated from the world outside his four walls. Walls that seem to inch closer every passing day, but at the same time comfort him. Outside those walls the world is noisy and incapable of accepting an animal like him. Outside, the world demands he have a purpose. He knows he has a purpose, but what it is eludes him.
Maybe tomorrow it will finally come to him, but for now he just stares into the corner.