RANGOON — Over the years, Jim McNalis has made sculptures of dissidents and political prisoners in Burma, and circulated photographs and postcards of those works in order to draw attention to his subjects’ struggles for freedom and democracy.
In the early 2000s, he created a sculpture of Min Ko Naing, a well-known leader of the 88 Generation former students group. Later, the former art director at the Walt Disney Company was blacklisted by Burma’s military regime because of some unflattering caricatures he made of former junta leader Snr-Gen Than Shwe. But in 2012, the artist was able to travel to Burma to personally deliver a bust of the country’s democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Now, the US-based sculptor has a new work: Win Tin, the National League for Democracy (NLD) co-founder and former political prisoner, who died in April this year.
“If there was ever a noble human being deserving of the attention of artists, it is U Win Tin,” McNalis said.
He said the late Win Tin was a great challenge as a subject because of the depth of his character.
“As I worked on my sculpture I found myself trying to shape the aspects of integrity,
courage, intelligence and persistence exemplified in the behavior of this inspiring man,” the artist told The Irrawaddy.
Reaching the age of 84 before his death, Win Tin was a veteran journalist known for his relentless activism against the former military regime.
For McNalis, Win Tin is not only one of the principle heroes of Burma’s struggle for democracy but he will always stand as an example to people everywhere.
“He reminds us that we can be better than we are…that we should expect a lot of ourselves and deliver on those expectations,” he said.