Monday, May 30, 2011

People With No Names - The Undocumented #84

This is the same family constellation, except with color.  The young woman (oldest daughter)
who is third from left, has been meticulously managing her father's care since his cancer was discovered 6 months ago.  She has a loose-leaf notebook full of his billing documents, and a loose-leaf notebook on all his treatments, medications, and doctor's orders.  She looms large in this painting, because she is a tireless and cheerful presence in her family.  My husband and I are struck that this young woman would make a wonderful be a resource for our WHOLE community... not just her family.  Alas,  she does not have documentation that would aid  her in getting an education.   How can we equip all people to use their gifts,  regardless of their ethnicity or origin?  How can we view people as potential assets and resources?

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:  "Every modern culture that we know of is a composite.  It is 'mestizo' made up of disparate elements,  which nonetheless form an integrated whole.  The cultural frontier is at the heart of every human grouping, every individual.  A human grouping---like any other living organism---cannot survive except by confronting the unknown, the unexpected.  It must re-form its identity at the threshold of every new encounter.  It is engaged in a ceaseless effort of absorption, assimilation, and transmutation---of symbols, images, modes of existence.  To try to arrest this movement at any given point---whether from nostalgia over the past or the dream of a sirenic utopia---is to condemn it to sclerosis and death."   Jacques Audinet (Institut Catholique, Paris)

Monday, May 23, 2011

People With No Names - The Undocumented #83

          This oil on canvas is an under-painting of the immigrant who is dying of pancreatic cancer.  There are those who begrudge him the medical care he has gotten...because that is "American medical care that is meant for American citizens. i.e.  He is using resources that are not meant for him".   He came over with his two daughters to pose for me.   In my living room, they were just a group of people whose lives were marked with uncertainty and gratitude that their father had /was experiencing the "milagro" (miracle) of living so long past his dire diagnosis.  They are very thankful for their long good by and the ability to plan for when he is no longer with them.          
          I just read about the Pope speaking with 12 astronauts circling Earth.  One of the astronauts is Mark Kelly.  His wife, a congresswoman,  was shot in the head while attempting to connect with her constituents on Jan.8, 2011 at a Safeway grocery store in Tucson, Arizona.  The Pope said that, "It must be obvious to you that we all live together on one Earth and how absurd it is that we fight and kill each other."  Kelly told the pope that, "Borders cannot be seen from space",  and noted that,  "Down on Earth, people usually fight for resources.  At the space station, solar power provides unlimited energy, and if those technologies could be adapted more on Earth, we could possibly reduce some of that violence."

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

why i paint what i paint #21

     I am reading a 20 yr old book that I stumbled upon at my local University Bookstore.  It is titled BORDERLANDS/LA FRONTERA The New Mestiza.  Apparently it was a groundbreaking work rooted in Gloria Anzaldua's experience as a Chicana, a lesbian, an activist and a writer.  On the back of the book it says that Borderlands "remaps our understanding of what a "border" is,  presenting it not as a simple divide between here and there, us and them,  but as a psychic, social, and cultural terrain that we inhabit,  and that inhabits all of us.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

People With No Names - The Undocumented #82

This 15" x 30" oil on canvas is another view of the migrant father who came from Mexico 16 years ago to support his family.  He is dying...before he can see 'The Dream Act' (a bill that would enable his children to contribute to their new homeland as educated citizens) realized.  But there is hope,  because  U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (Dem.- Chicago)  has gone on a 20-city tour to urge the White House to develop a fairer and more humane immigration policy.  "Barack Obama--who once bemoaned when  'communities are terrorized by ICE immigration raids, when nursing mothers are torn from their babies, when children come home from school to find their parents missing,  is on track to deport more illegal immigrants than any U.S president since Dwight Eisenhower and Operation Wetback in 1954.  (That crackdown resulted in the removal of nearly 1 million people.)  The Obama administration deported 800,000 people in its first two years."  Gutierrez wants Obama to spare two groups of people with an executive power known as "parole-in-place"---illegal immigrants who have U.S.-born children, and college students who might have qualified for legal status under the Dream Act.  Many Latinos believed in Obama's promise of "change" three years ago.  They need to see it.  For some, time is literally running out.     (the portion in quotes is from a column by Ruben Navarrette Jr. from the Washington Post Writers' Group, May 13, 2011)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

People With No Names - The Undocumented #81

This is oil on board 8" x 12".  He is dying of pancreatic cancer.  He is undocumented.  He is running out of time and he will leave a wife and two children undocumented and vulnerable.  He is very, very skinny,  but is dressed up and slowly walks  into my house so that he can sit for me to paint him.  He had an air of quiet dignity. I ask if he is in pain and he re-assures me that he is not, because (and here he pulls his shirt collar down to show me) he has a fentanyl patch on his chest to slowly release strong pain killer into his body.  His daughter who has driven him to my house says that it is a "milagro" (miracle) that he is still with us. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

People With No Names - The Undocumented #80

This 24" x36" oil on canvas depicts an immigrant who is doing gardening work in my neighborhood.  I love his turquoise ladder and orange glove.  I will probably return again and again to the ladder metaphor/motif in my paintings...but maybe not always as a way UP (up in society, up economically).  Rather,  I am thinking of the ladder as a tool that helps a person "reach" something that is unreachable, and return to the ground safely.  We all need effective tools in our lives.