The art (and heart) of an American atheist
AT the beginning of 2014 I received an email from a man living in Clint Eastwood territory – Carmel in California.
Shell Fisher asked me to check out his artwork, saying:
I’m an American artist and dedicated atheist. I’ve recently created an editorial cartoon series titled ‘Holy Smoke’ that I believe will interest you as an addition to your publication.”
Because I was inundated with work at the time, I did not respond immediately, but did follow the links he sent me – and I was extremely impressed.
I told him said that, later in 2014, we had plans to revamp the Freethinker webside to make it bigger and far more sophisticated, and that he may very well have a role to play in helping us improve the site’s appeal.
Since than I have leaned more about Fisher via an article in the Monterey Herald. It reported that he is:
A recluse, a guy with an unusually small circle of very close friends. His preferred diversion is the solitude of long-distance running. He gives much of his work away, mostly to the charity events within Monterey County’s running community.
Over the past three decades, his paintings, cartoons, caricatures and logos have adorned T-shirts and posters of the Big Sur International Marathon, the Big Sur River Run, the Just Run For Kids programme, the Run in the Name of Love, the Squid Shuffle, the Carmel Fine Arts 5K, and the Big Sur Mud Run.
Fisher said in an interview with the newspaper:
I’m told that I was an artist before I could walk, and by the age of 3 was drawing way beyond my year. There was never a question in anybody’s mind that I would be an artist. When I look at some of the drawings my mother saved, I’m kind of amazed that I was able to do those things at such a young age.
Today Fisher sent me the cartoon above. I think you will agree he is incredibly gifted, and we hope to bring more of his work to your attention in the coming months.
• More of Shell Fisher’s work can be seen here.
In the UK we have “hard-line atheist” Martin Rowson, an illustrator, political cartoonist and comic artist. He describes himself thus on the National Secular Society website:
As a hard-line atheist I have severe problems with the notion of Christian morality. Indeed, morality in general often strikes me as one of the more dangerous human attributes, empowering the self-proclaimed moralist to descend into levels of almost bestial immorality.
As far as I’m concerned, religion is the proper subject not for theologians but for anthropologists, sociologists and even biologists. Quite apart from the obvious shortcomings of religion – its misleading simplicity, exclusivity, intolerance, inadaptability, obscurantism and so much else – it’s also clearly and demonstrably wrong.
The fact that this is almost a matter of faith with me is, I know, rather ironic, but it also means that I simply cannot understand why billions of my follow human beings persist in choosing to be deluded into continuing to believe in their own chosen deity when it plainly doesn’t exist as anything more than a comforting extension of themselves.