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For this special issue, we asked seven of our favorite artists — award-winning illustrators all — to choose a sin and then let loose their creativity. Here, they share their thoughts on their sources of inspiration...

When heart meets flesh
"The 'Deadly Sins' are a powerful, hard-wired part of the human psyche that toy with us unrelentingly — Lust has since man's first recorded act, in Genesis," notes Michael Gibbs, who lives and works in Clifton, Virginia, just outside Washington D.C. "What I sought to convey was the confusing nature of love vs. lust, reflecting the [religious] view of lust with its reference to the eye. I centered the painting's visual focus on lust's bodily focus, painting a serpentine connection between the heart and the flesh."

A meaty subject
"I picked the sin of Gluttony because it fits into a series of paintings I have been working on about desire, flesh, consumption, and death," says Craig LaRotonda, who lives in Brooklyn, New York, where he owns and operates Revelation Studios. "In this series the subjects are all eating meat. They represent humankind's inevitable tethering to the physical world."

Struggle with the green-eyed monster
In her illustration depicting Envy, the Georgia-based Stephanie Dalton says she "wanted to show the contrast between the light and dark sides of one's personality." The dark-sided profile, she notes, is entangled within misery and deterioration, and the heart is being eaten away. "The lighter profiled person keeps her beauty self-contained and is just out of reach of the dark side." The two silhouettes are identical, Dalton says, "to show that oftentimes the struggle between light and dark is an emotional struggle within ourselves."

Vanity, thy name is . . .
"Pride is considered the mother of all sins; given the choice, how could I not choose to illustrate that one?" asks Hadley Hooper. "This sin is also known as Vanity, which conjured up all kinds of possibilities. What I alighted on was a woman, wearing the feathers of a peacock and gazing into a mirror. She has caught and saved herself from the arrows of others, adding, I hope, a little ambivalence to the image." Hooper lives and works in Denver.

Slip, slipping away
Albrecht Dürer's famous Melancholia engraving served as inspiration for Polly Becker's illustration for Sloth. "My piece is intended to evoke not only the 'laziness' aspect of sloth but depression and torpor as well," she explains. "The stones are to convey the idea of weight: immobility, but also things building up; the sand to represent time slipping . . . being squandered. Her legs, immobile, are being covered up by it. The broken bottle and spilling contents show the idea of dysfunction." Becker creates her works of assemblage from her studio in Boston.

The ascent to self-destruction
"I wanted to illustrate a man transformed by greed," notes Michael Morgenstern, of his depiction of Avarice. "Tormented by the fire of avarice, he clings to the summit of his treasure apart from the world of others. He wears the scaly crown of self-admiration; he is enamoured with his abilities and his victories, though he is never satisfied with what he has. Surrounding him are the bones of men he has destroyed against his better nature to appropriate their possessions. He has turned into a dragon."

All steamed up
Artist Bill Cigliano experimented with his usual style to come up with his illustration for Anger. The central figure in his work: a boiler about to explode from the pressure. To help create facial figures on the boiler, he painted "a spout like you would see on an old teakettle." Cigliano, a Chicagoan, used oils on a heavily textured surface for this work. "I built the gold-leafed frame with the spikes to further express the mood of the piece," he says, "as well as to bring a three-dimensional quality to the image."

Illustrator Polly Becker ("The Seven Deadly Sins" — Sloth) lives in Boston. Contact her at (617) 426-8284 or through her Web site,
Kristi Birch ("The Seven Deadly Sins") is a writer at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She can be reached at
Illustrator William Cigliano ("The Seven Deadly Sins" — Anger) lives and works in Chicago, Illinois. More of his work appears on He can be reached by calling 773-973-0062.
Writer Amy Cowles ("The Seven Deadly Sins") is a media relations representative in the Office of News and Information. Contact her at
Illustrator Stephanie Dalton ("The Seven Deadly Sins" — Envy) works out of Marietta, Georgia. Email her at or visit her Web site:
Illustrator Michael Gibbs ("The Seven Deadly Sins" — Lust) lives in Clifton, Virginia. Contact him through his Web site,
Illustrator Gilbert Ford ("The Seven Deadly Sins") is a New-York based illustrator. He can be reached at 347- 452-4098 or through his Web site,
Chris Hartlove (Wholly Hopkins: "But Don't Drink the Water") is a Baltimore-based photographer. To view his work and for contact information, visit
Illustrator Becky Heaver (Wholly Hopkins: "Speaking Their Language") lives and works in Alexandria, Virginia. Visit her Web site,
Illustrator Hadley Hooper ("The Seven Deadly Sins" — Pride) lives and works in Denver, Colorado. Call her at 303-296-5583 or email
Will Kirk '99 (Wholly Hopkins: "Director Sirota Says Good-Bye Baltimore" and "Former Secret Serviceman to Head Security"; "The Seven Deadly Sins") is a photographer for Homewood Photographic Services. E-mail him at
Photographer Sam Kittner ("The Big Question") is based in Takoma Park, Maryland. Visit his Web site,
Illustrator Jon Krause (Wholly Hopkins: "New Way to Test Older Drivers") is based in Philadelphia. Contact him at 215-338-1531 or through his Web site, Illustrator Craig LaRotonda ("The Seven Deadly Sins" — Gluttony) lives in Brooklyn, New York. Contact him or see more of his work at
Holly Lewis Maddux ("The Seven Deadly Sins") is a writer who lives in Towson, Maryland. She can be reached by e- mail at
Illustrator Michael Morgenstern ("The Seven Deadly Sins" — Avarice) is based in New Jersey. His Web site is Call him at 609-823-2420 or e-mail him at
Christopher Myers (Wholly Hopkins: "For Pee-Wee Ambassadors, It's a Small World After All"; "The Seven Deadly Sins") is a Baltimore-based photographer. To see more of his fine art images, go to
Illustrator Wally Neibart ("The Seven Deadly Sins") is a cartoonist based in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. He can be reached at 215-635-0487.
Writer Greg Rienzi ("The Seven Deadly Sins") is a freelance writer and staff member of the Johns Hopkins Gazette. E-mail him at
Freelancer Jim Paterson, SPSBE '04 ("The Seven Deadly Sins"), lives in Olney, Maryland. He can be reached at
Angela Paik Schaeffer (Wholly Hopkins: "Speaking Their Language") is writer/editor of the Krieger School's Arts and Sciences Magazine. She can be reached at or 410-516-7702.
Joanne Cavanaugh Simpson (Wholly Hopkins: "For Pee-Wee Ambassadors, It's a Small World After All") Freelance writer Joanne Cavanaugh Simpson ("Sound Reasoning") lives and works in Baltimore. Contact her via e-mail at
Photographer Jay VanRensselaer (Wholly Hopkins: "Jays Take Home NCAA Division I Title"; "The Seven Deadly Sins"; "A Perfect Season") directs the Homewood Photos Labs. Call him at 410-516-5332.

Return to September 2005 Table of Contents

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