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human

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Witch Hunts & Other Idle Party Favors

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“Rumour is a pipe / Blown by surmises, jealousies, [and] conjectures”
Shakespeare, Henry IV Part II

Imagine yourself sitting by a table, at a dinner party in a friend’s home. Conversation flows, and you find yourself in a trustworthy companionship. As talk unfolds, a guest talks about a mutual friend and laughs. With no reason to assume misrepresentation, you take the guest’s words as truth and unknowingly absorb Rumor’s malignant tendrils. Kool-Aid drunk, with no alternative presented, Rumor breeds, ready to stalk her next prey.

While this account may seem overly poetic, the point stands that rumor and slander exist as hurtful actions within our world. Throughout my life, a common trait among my friends is that we have been bullied. Victims, we and our families, are far too familiar with this pain. According to the CDC, “Youth who report being frequently bullied are at increased risk for suicide-related behavior.” Furthermore, studies supported by the CDC show an increase of 24% in suicide rates from 1999 to 2014, a raise from 10.5 to 13.0 per 100,000 population. Whether correlation or causation, the facts are devastating. I hate knowing that my friends and I contribute to behavior that spreads fear in children’s hearts.

But the real problem is that children are not the only victims of this hatred. Bullies do not disappear when they graduate from high school. They climb the social and economic ladder with everyone else, and they feed the epidemic that has spanned generations. Rumor, gossip, and slander may be the more recognized names for “matured” bullying tactics, but the aim and the effects of the actions are the same: defamation and pain, with intent to destroy.

Some find themselves boggled at the phenomenon of such negative attributes resurfacing so regularly within our communities. Yet television, advertisements, games, magazines, and theaters lavishly indulge in tales of gossip and social ill will. Just check the tabloids next time you are in the grocery store. A main theme of entertainment has always been verbal contagion. Characters stir confusion and the audience chortles with rapturous glee. But in the real world when the audience laughs, victims do not get to walk off stage; they have to keep living their lives, attacked.

I am not stating my opinion on bullying. I am saying that bullying is empirically bad. With noted effects of bullying including depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and poor social functioning, to argue in the case of bullying is amoral. Bullying can shorten, endanger, – and I have seen it firsthand – destroy lives. Age irrelevant.

Gossiping about the person who is not at the table is truthfully more dangerous than speaking it to his or her face, for they cannot join the conversation and have no opportunity for rebuttal. It is the person who is not even present, the person who is not even aware their name has been mentioned, the person who has no opportunity to share their side of a narrative; it is the most helpless person who is being slandered.

Sacrificing the absentee for one’s own personal gain is far from mighty. Yet this is not the consensus, for we are a people divided by our words against one another. We choose to brew anger and hurt. Communities from college campuses to small towns, cities, states, and countries spread lies and falsely label others. At a time when the world is brimming with hatred and mistrust, stirring new gossip for a petty triumph seems even more unnecessary than ever.

Perhaps the next social encounter could do without character assassination.                                

 

Additional Readings:
https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db241.htm
http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/04/22/474888854/suicide-rates-climb-in-u-s-especially-among-adolescent-girls
https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/bullying-suicide-translation-final-a.pdf
http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/1995-43433-001
https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/suicide-datasheet-a.pdf

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Human Rights

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The series human rights is different from all the work that has come before, yet it is simultaneously a culmination of that which preceded it. Painted on dark, rich backgrounds, the faces and bodies are shown as if emerging from the darkness.  It is not intended to speak directly to human rights in the modern, political sense, but rather it begs the viewer to think of the ideas of the human body as a source of Power, particular energy, radiance, and inherent complexity. this work speaks from a place of survival. The bright lights on darkened surfaces call forth the dichotomy of both hope and despair, which goes far beyond life today and extends itself to the entire history of the human condition. Shown without any contextualizing clothing or hair, these figures do not belong to any era; they float in the darkness, a beacon of light and, simultaneously, a reminder of that which is lost

The finger marks are clear in the form of the figures and the shadows surrounding them. This personal touch draws a poignant trace of personalism and specificity into an otherwise hauntingly ambiguous work. this work addresses all of humanity -- this is not a mystical otherworld, it is drawn from a reality, and because it is my reality, it is my truth. This realization of the viewer is the final piece to the enigmatic puzzle of this work: It is the human condition to create, it is the human struggle to be polarized, but it is the human right to speak ones truth. to survive.

Today, I give homage to Elie Wiesel, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work with human rights. Who fought for peace, human rights and simple human decency. 

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Portraits

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This ongoing work is about connection above all else. Portraiture is not an anonymous union of faces, quite to the contrary every work is an opportunity for truth to manifest itself. As an artist, there is a compulsion to express. Everything that is encountered is fuel to add to that creative drive. In this digitized world of disconnection in which millions of people hide their pain behind screens, both literal and metaphorical, there is so much need that is untouched upon. This is a time when not many people are listening and paying attention, but there is so much fear and so much pain. series _ Portrait is a genuine attempt to allow the figure to reach out and establish connection and open a dialogue stemming from an authentic desire to simply be of true help. These portraits hope to touch on something in the human condition that allows individual people and people on a universal scale to survive through the incredibly trying situations that they are faced with.

 

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