Zenna Henderson was one of the first modern women science fiction writers. She spent much of her life as a schoolteacher in Arizona and she used classrooms as settings, as well as teachers as characters. Her main line of writing was about a race of magical (or endowed with psychic powers) people, simply called "The People," who had escaped the destruction of their world and settled in the American southwest. They look no different than Earth people but must keep their powers hidden. They also try to remember their culture and customs from the world they came from, while trying to adapt to early 20th century American life.
This picture illustrates a shocking moment in one of her tales where a whole classroom of empowered "People" children misbehave and run wild with their powers of levitation, telekinesis, etc., thinking that no one can see them. But one girl leads the human authorities to them and when they open the door to the rural one-room schoolhouse, this is what they find. I titled it "Moment of Truth."
This idea of a psychically empowered race secretly living among non-empowered humans is very close to, for instance, Katherine Kurtz' medieval "Deryni" folk, and it has become a very basic repeating theme in science fiction and fantasy. Fans identify with the alien race. We must keep our true nature secret.
I painted this for "Iguanacon," the World Science Fiction Convention that was held in Phoenix, Arizona in 1978. It wasn't sold there, but was later sold to my uncle Joseph back in my Massachusetts hometown. I had no idea why he wanted it; he had no interest in fantasy fiction and knew nothing about Zenna Henderson or the story. My picture, and some others of mine as well, became part of my uncle's art collection, where I could see it whenever I went over to his house.
My uncle Joseph died last month, aged 86. The art remains in his house, but like so many other collections, will probably be scattered by his descendants.
"Moment of Truth" is ink and watercolor on Fabriano paper, 11" x 14", July 1978. Click on the image for a bit larger view.