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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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Giacometti to Ground 0

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Sometimes I forget to breath. When I become aware of this, I take deep breaths, I try to remember. I have tried to pay attention, when this happens, why it happens, and then I forget again. Philip Guston consoled Painters "to live without consolation, to keep their eyes wide open, and to not look away." The studio is a place to sit with things, there is work to be done. There is a lot to sit with. I had been in my studio far too long. Solitude, my best and worst friend. The Museum of Modern Art was having an exhibit of Alberto Giacometti's works. That was a good reason to leave the studio and possible going to the World Trade Center Site. Maybe not. Had it become a tourist attraction? The Giacometti show was astounding. There weren't many people in the museum that day., two days after 9/11. I felt privileged to be there. It had the intimacy and directness of a studio visit. A primitive simplicity. Gallery through gallery his work sang. I listen to the compassion for man kind. his life's work. To see all the works together, so powerful, but vulnerable. After spending two days at the museum, long forgotten words entered my thoughts. "Don't seek what your sage's found, seek what they sought." Giacometti had left a trail. Trusting my instincts, I went to the museum of African Art Bamana and the Art of Existence of Mali, ancestral tribal images, so majestic, which we had inherited? The conflict I originally had of going to Ground 0 no longer existed. Now it was necessary. A place to pay respect. Pockets brimming with tissues, I would not need them. I felt detached. Closer and closer, I wanted to feel something, beside the numbness. The magnitude of this hate was too much to comprehend. At some point a relationship between the art and the tragedy impacted me, all came out of the vulnerability. The primitive in all of us had surfaced. Not contaied behind the guarded museum walls. I am not sure what I came away with but questions. What does it mean to be human? It was time to return to solitude of the studio, and remember to breath.

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Guardian

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The Guardian series is one that is particularly difficult to attach an explanation. Everything, even from the name, to the images, inspiration, and effects evades concise description. When people first see these images they often think of the winged figures before them angels, but this conclusion is not the intent of the work. This work, like all my work comes from deep within me, inspired by my own experiences and manifesting itself within my work. When I set forth to make a new piece I give myself over to the process. I must let go completely, or the work will never go beyond the limitations of a conscious mind. It is imperative that I allow my work to flow forth from me quickly, overpowering the psyche. I trust this process. I have been doing it for years. When my whole body enters into the work and I am open to whatever is about to come forth that is when my work is able to be successful.

This series in particular goes beyond any political concept or belief. It is much nearer to the realm of spirituality than I am usually comfortable with. I do not consider myself a religious person, but the experience of faith, of believing in the process of life, is one that I have closely identified with since my childhood. As a young girl with a difficult upbringing, I often found myself taking long bus rides, after school, no destination in mind, completely fearless, yet infinitely vulnerable to the adventure before me. Likewise, I would wander through deeps woods around my home, always off the path, trusting that no real harm would come to me despite having no knowledge of where the day and the woods would take me. This experience of blind, bold faith is undeniably parallel to the process in which I make art. Just as I had no sense of direction or control on a bus or in the woods, so too am I completely lost as I open myself and let me work take me wherever it requires that I go. The world, the work, always surprises me, as it should, yet simultaneously is protective of me.

It has always seemed to me, since my wandering childhood days, that there is far too much emphasis for us to stay on the path. As human beings we are often prescribed a direction, and given the impression that following it is our only hope. I know from experience that this is not the case. These paths are not our salvation. We need to be able to forage our own paths, sometimes emerging from the forest with scratched and bloody knees, but knowing all the while that the choices we are making are our own.

        This ability to fearlessly have faith and trust in one’s safety is one that I hope to give to others through my work. I cannot protect people from the pain that is inevitable in life, but I can do my best to give people hope. So often I am approached by someone who has been moved by my work, and has found that it gave them a sense of empowerment, or of peace or safety, in a particularly trying time. This effect was never my meaning - when I began making art, but after years of this pattern repeating itself I have come to acknowledge this surprising quality that my work has. It can act as a touchstone, not all the time but occasionally, for someone in need of hope or purpose. It is my story, the fearless quality of my childhood manifesting in my work, reminding people that it is possible to stray far from the path and simultaneously hold faith that one will encounter adventure and arrive through an experience safely. 

While I was always this protective figure for my younger siblings, I do not see these paintings in any way to be portraits of myself as the guardian or even a statement saying that I have the answers for anyone who is struggling. As always, I see my work not as answers but as as explorations of questions, attempting to stem my own infinite curiosity about people, the world, and myself.

        There are so many people in this world who are in need of hope, and the people attempting to help them are not the ones who you hear about. I am not someone who has the tools to help everyone in need, but if it is even possible for me to help direct someone to a place from which they can achieve real help that is an accomplishment all on its own. The difficulty arises when people relate to this experience of finding insight in a painting as some miracle that I am working. I am no shaman or magician. I paint my truth, and when someone finds a message that inspires them within that truth that is simply a wondrous coincidence. However coincidental, these experiences often reaffirm my belief that this is the work I was meant to be doing. I am no savior of the people. It is an artist’s compulsion to transform their experiences into images, and all one can do is hope that the effect these images have is a positive one. 

When I first began this series I felt embarrassed, afraid that someone might read them as self-righteous or preaching. I even left off the wings of the figures, not wanting to reach into the realm of religious iconography. As I paint more, however, I know that they are far from these things and my confidence in presenting them grows. These images are not of stereotypical, beautiful archangels of the heavens looking down upon earth in all their disconnected guardianship. The figures I am producing have elements of the mundane, a kind of nonchalance that grounds them in the world of humanity and humility. They are growing, both in strength and authority. They are not of the distant sky, but rather are terrestrial spirits exhibiting the natural human ability to rise forth out of darkness into the light, with fearlessness, and, above all, with faith in the ability to stray from “the path” and still arrive safely at a destination.

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