Thursday, April 28, 2011

why i paint what i paint #20

Wow,  last night I saw an amazing film that I had NOT wanted to see,  (because I didn't even know it existed).   I went to see "Of Gods and Men" but the tiny art theater in Corvalis was only showing it every other night!  So we just picked an unknown movie,  and were blown away!  The movie is called "I Am", and explores 'what is wrong with the world,  and how we can fix it'.  It explores the idea that we are NOT competitive, survival of the fittest, creatures...but rather cooperative, inclusive beings.  It even points out that Darwin noted this characteristic of species;  but somehow his 'survival' idea gained historical traction and dominates.  And an 'idea' of how we ARE,  shapes how we BEHAVE.  If we believe that it is a competitive, dog-eat-dog world,  we will behave accordingly.  We will believe that poor immigrants are "taking our jobs,  abusing our social services, ruining our country".   The film defines 'mental illness' as: taking MORE than we need to live,  encouraging the strong to disregard the needs of the weak, (the young, the old, the infirm, the poor),  and applauding those who amass vast fortunes while exploiting the weak.  Of course the idea of fixing what is wrong with the world's systems is daunting, but as dear Desmond Tutu says in the film,  "God says,  I don't have anybody else (to do my work),  just you".   Tutu also reminds us that,  "There is only one way to eat an bite at a time". 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

why i paint what i paint #19

      President Barack Obama spoke at Facebook Headquarters in Palo Alto this past week.  He was making a swing through the west,  raising a ton of money for his upcoming campaign.  My husband told me that he spoke about immigration reform,  so naturally I looked up his remarks.  He said,
          "We have not gotten immigration reform done.  It's something I care deeply about.
            I can't solve this problem by myself.  We need immigrants who are educated,  who
            develop needed skills for the workplace,  who open businesses and help create jobs."
He also repeated his support of The Dream Act that would legalize undocumented students who
"think of themselves as Americans".
      I have no reason to think the President doesn't mean what he says,  but here's the thing (as Meredith Grey always says on Grey's Anatomy);  we need clear, concrete policy and leadership.  I was in an exercise class recently,  and the instructor was tentative and indecisive throughout the whole class.  She was cheerful and smiling as we all fumbled along trying to follow our "leader";  and she really MEANT to give us a good class. I had trouble paying attention because I kept thinking how much better the situation would be if we had a strong decisive teacher.  President Obama IS  a gifted orator and leader.  I believe he could rally the people of America to radical change and inclusion.  He needs to clearly explain what it could mean to us as Americans if we pass The Dream Act...and what it could mean if we don't.  ( for example, "Passing of The Dream Act could mean that we will have more educated, included young people in our midst...not passing it could mean that we will have a group of disenfranchised angry young people in our midst.")   He needs to meet with the many Latino men and women who are undocumented all over the United States who HAVE opened their own businesses and have many people relying on them for the jobs that their businesses have created.     He needs to tell these peoples stories,  and remind Americans that we are fundamentally a nation built by the rich diversity of immigrants.  He needs to give the people an individual face and human dignity.  He needs to move beyond "caring deeply" to taking action.  And finally, he needs to open a frank discussion about the fact that the meat and produce and construction industries of America are all heavily (in some cases almost exclusively) staffed with undocumented (read: illegal) workers...whom this country cannot do without.  It is an ongoing dirty secret...quite removed from the rarified air of the Palo Alto Facebook Headquarters, and a $38,000 a plate dinner at a CEO's home in San Francisco.  Interestingly,  the slogan for the 2012 campaign is "Are You In?".  In the case of a lot of undocumented people,  the answer is " what?"

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

why i paint what i paint #18

This is an oil study 12 x 18" on unstretched canvas of the bent over cleaning woman.  I have been looking a lot at Degas' "Dancers",  and how they,  also,  are often bent over and twisting their bodies in ways that cause them pain, but give pleasure to others.  It is Holy Week for me.  I am thinking about the necessity of someone else being broken for that I might have an easier life...or a life at all.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

People With No Names - The Undocumented #79

This is another diptych oil on canvas 12" x 18 ".  It is  'Desde Abajo III'.   I am reading a book called "Life Is A Verb" by Patti Digh.  She says that, "Change occurs at the edges, without permission.  The same is true for individuals changing their lives as it is for societal change.  Martin Luther King Jr. didn't wait for a grant before marching from Selma.  Rosa Parks didn't pull together a National Bipartisan Task Force on Bus Seating.  Great change doesn't come with official endorsement.  It just never has"

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Monk Librarian #7

I am re-reading  "Daybook-The Journal of An Artist" by Anne Truitt and I resonate with so many of her thoughts.  Here is one about children and meals in the midst of trying to carve out studio time: 
          "I could lower my standards but in so doing would sink with them,  taking my children
            with me.  It is not necessary for us to have candlelit dinners every night.  But the ceremony
            of meals has always been important to regard.  Where else can children learn so easily
            and pleasantly,  and at such range when guests are included,  what it is to be grown-up?
            The world of children is fascinating but very personal.  The presence of adults in the full
             cry of conversation,  with opinions, interests, engagements, and responsibilities discussed,
             crisscrossed by agreements and disagreements, laced with rhetoric, is so pungent with
            variety that children can learn without harm to their self-respect that they are, for all their
            interest to themselves, on their way to larger definitions."

Monday, April 4, 2011

People With No Names - The Undocumented #78

This is a diptych with each oil on canvas image being 12" x 16". Originally, on the left, I was just trying to block out the major shapes. On the right, (second painting) I got into more detail. Only when I finished, and really looked at them, did I realize that I had captured the difference between the immigrant's home country and the rich draw of America. Note that the refrigerator on the left is dark and empty, the shelves are bare. On the right, the refrigerator is lit and full of food. The red chair is "the way up" onto the counter. Everyone needs a "way up".