Notes from the Artist

Finger Play      I recently completed Finger Play and was getting ready to post this picture when I heard the news white supremacy groups are encouraging their members to spread the coronavirus to police and Jewish communities. As our society becomes more vulnerable in health and economics, various hate groups are adding the coronavirus to their tools of hate. I completed this picture with hand signals being used by white supremacy and nationalist groups. To think the hand sign for “OK” is now seen as a symbol for “White Power”.  Use of two fingers on one hand and three on the other makes 23, a numeric symbol for “W” (White).

Bandanas   This picture was completed prior to Covid-19 pandemic and thus prior to the government guidance in wearing face masks for protection. This picture represents Antifa, an opposing force to white supremacy groups during demonstrations, which I observed in Portland Oregon.  Merriam-Webster Dictionary define Antifa as, “a person or group actively opposing fascism. They represent a defensive response to the growing presence of right-wing extremism.” Antifa individuals frequently wear black or bandana face coverings during their demonstrations. I include both Finger Play and Bandanas in my exhibit as an example of polarized groups.

Blurring the Line    As a woman of faith, nothing astonishes me more than seeing fundamental Christian individuals seek to influence our government at its highest levels. The principle of separation of church and state is challenged. In reflecting this in art form, I rendered the Christian cross wrapped with the American flag and held up by various hands. The leaders shown are looking towards the Supreme Court with anticipation of using the Christian fundamentalist drive to influence the court. A common denominator in all religions is the guiding principle to treat others as you desire others to treat you. Religious beliefs are the moral compass for many in our country. It is a reflection of true democracy when our common golden rules are practiced by all.

Cherish        When thinking of an image to portray environmental protection, I imagined a lone hiker looking over a vast protected landscape.  The hiker casts the flag to the wind as a gesture of honor. Imagine, our country as a leader in new innovative ways of producing energy that is clean and helps to reduce global warming. Rather than looking forward and building on the many ways we can reduce damage to our environment, our government has turned to decreasing important environmental regulations, such as the Clean Water Act (1972), that were put in place to protect our waterways, drinking water, nature and atmosphere.

Patient, Doctor…and Profit.      Our National Health Care has evolved into Health Business for Profit. My effort to depict this is shown with the older patient wrapped in the American flag and doctor standing by to care for her. The figure off to the side represents the business and profit side of health care; always in the room, like a cloud over the patient and those who give care. Funds that could be used to lower health care costs are misdirected within the system. The average individual CEO pay, including pay packages, within pharmaceutical companies came to 7.2 million dollars. (biopharmadive.com 5/28/2019) The average individual CEO pay in health insurance companies added to 18 million dollars annually, while 1 out of 5 Americans struggled with medical debt. Last year, 62 CEOs in health care companies made a combined total of 1.1 billion. (Luke Darby, gq.com, 4/8/2019)

Knee for Justice   The Take a Knee movement inspired this exhibit. It pushed me to question how a black man’s peaceful posture of being on one knee during the national anthem to highlight police brutality towards black men could be considered disrespectful and unpatriotic. Yet, a white man on a horse with a gun and American flag, riding through the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is considered, by many, a citizen’s right and patriotic.

Mixed Message     In October 1957, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) adopted the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics.  It begins with this statement:  “As a law enforcement officer, my fundamental duty is to serve the community; to safeguard lives and property; to protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation and the peaceful against violence or disorder; and to respect the constitutional rights of all to liberty, equality and justice.” This art piece depicts three officers, one with open arms and helpful hands; the other two with hands held close, one with fists. All three support the American flag amidst the mixed message.

This Land Is My Land   The take-over of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon by Ammon Bundy and armed militias in January 2016, brought to the forefront the debate of who should control federal lands and how the balance between environmental protections and ranchers is sensitive and challenged. This Land is My Land acknowledges this struggle between those involved in open range philosophy and the federal government. The rancher’s struggle with the flag depicts this challenge.

Our Backs, Your Table acknowledges the hard-working migrant individuals who provide cheap labor, without labor protections, to deliver food to our tables. It was inspired by an NPR interview with a migrant worker who challenged Americans to do the hard work they do. The flag is carried over the migrant’s shoulder and expands across the crops of her labor.

Bull Run Grippe     A trip to New York and walk down Wall Street inspired this art piece. The men and women in suits quickly moved off the commuter train to their destination with brief case in hand. I was standing amidst a running of bulls. Their grippe leads them to grip the American flag in a statement of greed and power.

God Given Right   The daily deaths of our citizens due to gun violence is staggering, shameful and adds a heavy weight of grief on the loved ones left behind, those who survive and all who observe and listen through news reports.  The National Rifle Association initially stood for improved marksmanship, responsible gun ownership, and access for recreation and hunting. “God Given Right”, was a response I heard during an interview of someone who believes strongly in the Second Amendment without exception.

Our Turn     During these turbulent years of division, nothing gave me more hope than to watch the youth and young adults of our country come together to demand change on so many fronts.  The demonstrations for gun control and environmental protection and the renewed demonstrations for Black Lives Matter constitute a wave of unity across this country. Our Turn is a tribute to these movements.

Equal Together    Too often I see young men at odds with one another building secure presence by excluding others. This art piece strives to depict young men of various backgrounds and ethnicity standing together while holding the American flag as a symbol of unity.

Strength in Unity represents women bonded together to challenge the misogyny, inequality and power some men and institutions continue to exercise against them. This piece honors women coming together, striving for          justice in all levels of society.                                                       

Tug of War is a depiction of frustration as our national leaders play games for the purposes of power and ideology. The American flag is symbolic of a game piece being teased and pulled by our representatives.

 

Enmeshed Unity represents the stress I observe in our communities as shared common humanity is divided by the enabling and empowerment of racism and ignorance. This piece features two men, one of color the other white, with their backs to one another entangled in the American flag.

 

We Served Together

We Served Together represents the wounded soldier in grief, honoring the loss of another. The loss of one leg represents the physical wounds and is meant to address the emotional and mental wounds as well.  He sits alone, to pause from his rehabilitation services.

 

Man at the Door   The increased population of homeless people in my city, Portland, Oregon, is apparent in downtown and my NE neighborhood. Frequently, I view sleeping individuals in doorways. Thus, Man at the Door was rendered to acknowledge this community tragedy. Lack of affordable housing, mental health and drug rehabilitation services as well as low wages combine to bring individuals and families to the point of life without shelter.

 Heart of Education   The teachers I have worked with and known personally teach because they believe sharing knowledge, trade and life skills with our youth and adults is important, not just for the individual who receives, but for the strength of our communities, nation and world. They “pass it on” with creativity and passion. Most balance this within large classrooms working with children and families who need support services in so many other areas. Teachers donate their time as well as contribute to school supplies to make for a successful classroom. Yet, the average teacher salary, adjusted for inflation, has decreased 4.5 percent over the past decade. Most starting salaries are still below $40,000 a year. (National Educational Association)

For You, My Child    I am a granddaughter of immigrants from Spain who arrived in San Francisco in the early twentieth century; my grandmother with her mother and sister, and my grandfather solo. They met on the ship to America and were reunited in San Francisco. Neither had a full education nor did they speak English. My great grandmother left Spain following the death of her husband to tuberculosis. She wanted a better life for her daughters. My grandfather carried on his family trade of upholstery work and my grandmother cleaned homes. The marriage was tumultuous but endured to give birth to five children. This is my father’s history; this is my history. For You, My Child acknowledges the many parents who journey to our country to seek a better life for their children.

   

Remember    Elders have been described as “libraries.” We are reminded that they hold vast sums of wisdom and knowledge. They have the stories we need to hear. They pass this on for our future. Remember depicts three elders holding an infant looking upon the infant with love and hope. They are wrapped with the American flag which they bring to the infant.