Matthew Whitney

walking lines, documenting paths

Walking the Warzone | 2016-2017

Above – ink and gouache on paper, 22″ x 28″, 2017

Walking the warzone of an American city is a project comprised of multiple walks through the city of Seattle. Walks occurred between July 2016 and February 2017. Drawings represent the texts walked through the urban street grids. 129,000 privileged steps of a supposed contemplative, who can typically go for walks in the city without fearing intimidation, marginalization, or even death. That is not the case for many people, whose ordinary actions of going for walks, going to the store, post office, etc are dangerous actions. We condone too much injustice, too much needless death, in the name of “keeping the peace”. While this goes on, we all have no peace, certainly no freedom. I do not accept this as normal. I grieve it, but I also choose life – to continue learning how to practice humility, name justice and seek joy. We are all walking battlegrounds.

warzone, w (part 1), 6.2 miles, walked after Dallas, July 8, 2016

warzone, w (part 1), 6.2 miles, walked after Dallas shootings, July 8, 2016

warzone, a (part 2), 5.4 miles,walked after Syrian hospital destroyed by airstrikes, July 12, 2016

warzone, w (part 2), 5.4 miles,walked after Syrian hospital destroyed by airstrikes, July 12, 2016

warzone, a (part 1), 7.2 miles, walked after Nice, July 15, 2016

warzone, a (part 1), 7.2 miles, walked after Nice murders, July 15, 2016

warzone - Z(1) - 4 miles

warzone, z (part 1), 3.8 miles, September 13, 2016

cumulative walks through Seattle, July 2016 – February 2017

To walk the word warzone through a city perhaps has a provocative nature, though these days less so. These days.

San Bernadino. Sandy Hook. Orlando. Dallas, Baton Rouge. These are the names of a few places. Collectively, these names mean something else.

Walking the Warzone of an American city  |  pastel on paper  |  70″ x 60″

There are no more warzones, because everywhere is a battlefield. To go out one’s door to live everyday life is to perform a dangerous action, one in which we might not return. One who would seek to do good, to love others, and to help live out justice in their lives is to incite violence from those whose lives run counter. In our current times, safety is not an option to those who love others.

Warzone – Detail


These walks are equal parts protest march and active prayer. I walk to protest the realities of physical violence, social violence, economic violence. I walk as a form of prayer of lament that we live and die in these ways – both directly and in complicity. My paths intersect somewhere in the grayness between despair and hope. This is our reality, but it should not be normal. It is not right, and I reject and resist the forces of violence, injustice, and complacency. Yet, walking these everyday warzones is not to share in violence. We reciprocate brokenness with love. We reveal alternatives. In the face of violence, we turn another cheek.