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TW: Mention of Death, Suicide, Trauma


End of Innocence is a piece about loss at a young age. In my own life I have experienced loss as early as the age of 9. Most of the loss I was experiencing was distant relatives. Until I got to the age of 13 and I learned what loss of a young person was. I experienced what would unfortunately be the first of many suicides in this community. Although I was not close to this person, it deeply effected some of my friends. I remember feeling very removed from the magnitude of what had happened.


Until I got to highschool and throughout my four years there I, along with many others, would be deeply effected by suicide and the loss of our peers. Some deaths were tragic accidents, but most were young kids taking their lives. Experiencing these events from an indirect stand point, and being a support system to good friends of mine who were directly effected was something very surreal. It always felt like we were in a movie or a dream. "How could this be happening again? I don't understand." was often where my head went. It almost started to feel normal that events like this would happen. 


Up until recently I don't think I've ever considered how much these deaths had effected me. I mean, I was never incredibly close to the people who lost their lives. I was more so just friends by association, someone they would say hey to a party, sat across from in class and share a short conversation or laugh with. But it's ridiculous of me to have ever thought I wouldn't be effected by the loss of their life because the reality is, their soul was apart of my human experience, even if only at a small scale. What hurt me the most was that their lives effected some of my closest friends at a much larger scale, and there was nothing I could do to fix it.


In the spring of this year (2023) there was an incredibly tragic car accident involving five young people, taking the lives of three. One of the three souls that were lost was someone I considered a friend. Although not close, was always a friendly face in the crowd. Their friend group always knows how to have the most fun and make everyone feel welcome and included. Just incredibly down to earth people. Knowing that friend group lost three of their best friends absolutely crushed me and so many others in this community because it could have been any one one of us. We all have our own friend groups and the thought of losing one person let alone three is just unfathomable. It made so many of us realize how fragile life is and to be so gracious for every moment you spend with good friends and good people. 


All of my built up emotions surrounding the loss of youth came out in this piece. I hate that so many of us share the pain of having lost a friend below the age of 25. I hate that we had to grow up so quickly and are now so familiar with the respect and protocol of a funeral. Try to be a pillar of strength for others when you yourself are terrified of the next time this might happen or what if its one of your best friends. I hate the immaturity and rumors that would surround these events. I know far too many people who have lost too many friends at a young age and it just fucking sucks. There's really no other way to put it.


So I made this painting. It is originally a 4' x 5' using the mediums acrylic paint, chalk pastel and paint marker. I wanted to encapsulate the feeling of being young and having this rose coloured sheild on to try and see the beauty in life while trying not to fall apart. Because when you have experinced so much loss at such a young age, especially of young people, you start to lose sight of the beautiful things life has to offer. I know our friends wish they were here with us to continue to see the amazing things life has to offer. 


So here is to the end of innocence, may we try every day to gain back the child in us in the little things we do as we move forward. Even with the other stresses of life like making money, buying a house, paying a mortgage, paying bills and so on, in an economy that seems to be working against us on top of all the other shit we are experiencing. May we learn to let the pain heal us and know we are not feeling any of it alone. Even if we have to put our rose coloured glasses on sometimes to help us see it. If we work together, spread kindess, support and empathy for one another, I believe we can all get to a place in this world where the losses won't effect us as deeply and our souls are able to continue our human experience. Just live, let all the other bullshit fall away and find one small thing to live for.


The flowers, the trees, the butterflies, the leaves they are all our ancestors and friends we have lost. They are watching us and waiting for us to achieve something great for ourselves. And maybe I sound idioctic and I'm sure this comes from a privledged place but I believe we all have something bigger than ourselves to tap into and once we realize we are not alone in any of this, we will be at peace with this life.


Before I close out here, I wanted to add that loss is something that deeply effects us at all ages. You do not become immune to it when you turn a certain age. So I would like to acknowledge that as well in hopes that this piece can make a connection with all people who have experienced loss, struggle and hard times. 


- Kennady Rayn



End of Innocence. 16 x 20 inches. Printed on Hahnemuhle Fine Art Paper. Signed by Kennady Rayn. Numbered Edition of 20. 


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