This 11"x14" oil on canvas depicts a recent deportee from the U.S. looking back. Is she looking at family that she has had to leave on the U.S. side of the border? Does she have a husband and children from which she has been forcibly separated? Our president, in his recent inaugural speech, stated that, "Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as the land of opportunity. " He mentioned the societal progress that has issued from Seneca Falls, Selma and Stonewall...and I hope also comes forth from the Sonoran Desert in Arizona.
This 11"x14" oil on canvas is of an immigrant woman in the Nogales, Mexico deportee center. Her hand over her mouth reminds me that many people in the world, (especially women), do not have voices...many people in the world are still not 'heard from'. Their lives, and deaths, go unnoticed and unmarked. In that vein, the Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei has a huge installation at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington D.C. right now. The installation is comprised of all the mangled rebar that was salvaged when a shoddily-built children's school collapsed during an earthquake in 2008. 'Wenchuan Steel Rebar (2008-2012)' is a powerful indictment of the Chinese government and a monumental reminder of the many young people who died during the earthquake. Along with the installation, Ai Weiwei had people read and record each and every name of every child who was killed when the school collapsed. He was arrested and detained during the making of the piece, but his assistants continued to construct the piece. He says that his art flows from the search for the rights of individuals. He says that the rebar stands for the spine, and the fact that we are 'spineless' if we don't stand up against human rights violations. Amen.
Listening to an interview with the writer Barry Lopez today while painting. He said that everyone has a need to have meaning in the world. We need others to say, "Your existence has meaning, your effort matters in the world". This is an 8" x 12" oil on canvas of an immigrant at the deportee center in Nogales.
Here it is, the front page of the New York Times on Jan. 1!!! So this is big news in the United States where there is widespread fear that immigrants will "take our jobs and be a disproportionate drain on our resources". And the article goes on to say that , "The decline in birthrates was steepest among Mexican-American women who immigrated from Mexico, at 25.7 percent. This has reversed a trend in which immigrant mothers accounted for a rising share of births in the United States." It turns out that while Latinos were immigrating physically, ideas about family size, education and career were immigrating into their family structure. "In Denver, Olga Gonzales, the daughter of Mexican immigrants, teaches a family planning class in Spanish to Mexican immigrants. She tells her students that as a teenager in the 1980s, she decided to take the long view on life: "I chose to do the college route first and establish my career and then think about babies later" Now 40, Ms. Gonzales has a master's degree in nonprofit management, two children and a solid foothold in the professional middle-class. (Her father, one of six children, never finished fifth grade back in Guanajuanto, Mexico, before he had to go to work.)" William H. Frey, a sociologist and demographer at the Brookings Institute says that "the decrease has signaled much about the aspirations of young Latinos to become full and permanent members of the upwardly mobile middle class, despite the challenges posed by the struggling economy." So, those who see newcomers as threats...might want to revise their thinking. Those who have seen only a particular demographic as assets...might want to revise their thinking. There is a precedent for 'open-mindedness and capacity for growth'... one hundred and fifty years ago TODAY Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation! After Jan. 1, 1863, Lincoln began to think seriously of the United States as a bi-racial society. The work continues with our treatment of our most recent immigrants. President Lincoln said, "The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present" and "we must dis enthrall our selves, and then we shall save our country." Amen.