“Maybe because I picked up the brush I can leave a little love behind”
Up in Manti, Utah lives a woman for which the word eccentric doesn’t quite do justice. Emotional, spiritual, joyful, and without regret, Kaziah Hancock has overcome a hard life to become an American treasure cherished by those unfortunate families dealt the devastating blow of losing a member during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A goat herder by day to sustain herself monetarily, it’s her work with Project Compassion and the vow to never stop painting portraits of the war’s fallen heroes that has placed the spotlight on her empathy. Winner of the VFW Commander-in-Chief Gold Medal, Kaziah the Goat Woman is an inspiration for anyone living free courtesy of those fighting a world away.
Directed by Amy Janes, this short documentary shares more than just her process of oil on canvas. We watch her paint Pvt. DeWayne Lenell White, Jr. from start to finish—”When I have the eyes, then I have him to keep me company”—but also hear tales of being raised in polygamy, born without a father and needing goat’s milk to sustain health once her mother became dry, and the tragic inability to bear children due to Ovarian Cancer. The goats saved her life then and continue to do so now as they become her ‘kids’ to protect and raise yearly. Never one for self-pity, she’s found strength in the painful memories of the past. Escape from bondage inside a loveless marriage at fifteen to a man she despised only helped prove the existence of God.
So caught in the fear that leaving would mean an eternity in hell, it wasn’t until she realized her faith could free her that cutting these evil middle men from the equation would bring her closer to God. There is no ill will towards a mother she cherishes and the reality of those polygamists being the only ones who would take them in is not lost on her. But life didn’t actually begin until she was finally released from the tyranny of oppression and free to paint as she always wished she could. Art gave an outlet for expression just as the goats she’s cared for almost forty years gave family. By falling in love with and marrying her art instructor Ivan Douglas Jordan, she carved out an existence able to bring happiness.
Vulgar when too riled up to censor herself with curse word substitutions, Kaziah is a fearless thinker doing what she believes in. The story of SSgt. James W. Cawley from Utah was the first to inspire her idea of painting as a memorial to the families of those who sacrificed their lives so she could find a freedom she’d never let be taken again. Not in it for the accolades or money—she and her four partners have completed over 4,000 portraits to date as unsalaried workers putting each donation into the cause—but instead for the satisfaction of touching the souls of strangers who have done the same back. It may have started as a local exercise, but now Project Compassion has increased to include every citizen in the country. If a family wants a painting, she’ll make sure they get one.
Staying invisible for the most part, Janes allows Kaziah to talk candidly. We watch her cut off a goat’s horn that’s curled into its eye, see her nonchalantly assist in the birth of Rocky Road’s kid in the fields, and listen to her choked up recollection of Navy Seal Michael Mansoor’s heroism in the battlefield. It’s a short segment that gets at the root of her unwavering belief in showing appreciation to all those grieving for lost loved ones. She would never call herself a hero, but you’d be hard-pressed not to after taking this glimpse inside her life. A bit odd speaking in the third person and sharing the unfiltered excitement in her day-to-day, Kaziah is only at peace with brush in hand. Showing a healthy portion of her work, Kaziah the Goat Woman finds a way to peer into her soul like she believes her paintings do with their subjects.
 Kaziah by Kathleen Dolan
 Spc. Dane Balcon – Army Air Force
 Sgt. Troy D Jenkins – Army
courtesy of the film’s website: www.kaziahthedocumentary.moonfruit.com