This 16" x 20" oil on canvas is another 'portrait' of an immigrant who blends into the landscape. I am using a 'gridded out' way of approaching the subject matter to think about the disjointed and disconnected way that immigration is being approached in this country. For one thing, individual states claiming frustration with the federal government's inaction have enacted their own particular laws to address a nationwide situation. Alabama has enacted Draconian laws that have caused undocumented immigrants to withdraw their children from school, flee the state and leave crops rotting in the fields. The governor of Alabama says that he believes his new law will put his roughly 10% unemployed Alabamans back to work. Unfortunately the unemployed "documented" U.S. citizens have declined the arduous, backbreaking labor...hence the crops are rotting in the fields, the price of all produce goes up...food is more expensive for the employed, the unemployed, the documented and undocumented. Oh and all those little kids are not getting an education...disconnect.
I have done two new paintings, (16" x 20" oil on canvas), and I have been thinking about undocumented immigrants and that series of childrens' books "Where's Waldo?" Waldo books encourage children to search among crowd scenes for a tiny "Waldo" who is always dressed the same and easily recognizable...presumably these books really encourage visual literacy/careful observation. In this painting there is an undocumented man doing landscape work. He is barely distinguishable from his surroundings. And that's the way he wants it. He does not want you to identify him and pick him out.
Today in mass our first reading was from Exodus 22:21. It said, "You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt." So I was thinking about the universality of being "the stranger" in any given situation or place. And I remembered this painting/copy that I did to study Masaccio's, "Expulsion of Adam and Eve". They are being driven out of the only homeland that they know. And I thought of how often people will ONLY go to new places (physically or psychologically) if they are forced to. Things have to be really bad, to choose to leave everything you know. You are quite literally DRIVEN out of your home. And in the midst of that tremendous physical and psychological dislocation...those of us who are not (at this moment) "the stranger" have a choice to make: extend kindness or make a hard situation harder.