This 11" x 14" oil on canvas "Ce n'est pas un animaux". (Please see, "ce n'est pas un pipe" by Magritte, surrealism) On Sunday March 24, 2013 there was a front page article about immigrants being held in solitary confinement. The U.S. has come under sharp criticism at home and abroad for relying on solitary confinement in its prisons more than any other democratic nation in the world. This practice is particularly "startling because these detainees are being held on civil, not criminal charges. As such, they are not supposed to be punished: they are simply confined to ensure that they appear for administrative hearings." At the bottom of the article is a picture of a chain link 6' x6' cell "where immigrant detainees may get an hour to pace".
This 11" x 14" oil on canvas is easy to title...It is "Pool Girl". This young man is one of many undocumented kids crossing the U.S. border alone in increasing numbers. Illegal immigration may be down, but the number of children coming across the border into the U.S. ON THEIR OWN is soaring...
-Terry Green Sterling
The Daily Beast, March 24, 2013
This 6' by 4' oil on unstretched canvas is of two women recently deported from the United States. I realize that I made the hand (on the woman in the back) too small...especially when you consider the amount of work she probably does with that hand! They are both separated from their families who live and work in the United States, a United States that is growing and changing. The "we" of "we hold these truths to be self evident" is always growing and changing. It now includes people of both genders, people of every ethnicity, and... as always...people from other lands. Who is the "we" today? The "we" includes 11 million people from Central America and Mexico who are deemed 'unlawfully here' by the people in power today. Tomorrow, the power may shift and the "we", like any living organism, need to grow and change or we will begin to die. What to do with 11 million immigrants who are working and paying taxes in the United States of America? At great cost to taxpayers, we criminalize, expel and build walls to 'attempt' to keep them out of "our" country. It would be cheaper (not to mention kinder and more effective) to enfranchise and welcome people. I was touched today, to hear that the country of Jordan is continuing to welcome Syrian refugees. It is a strain on their water supply and economy...(and they are asking the international community to come alongside them)...BUT it is fundamentally WHO the Jordanian people are, to be a people of 'hospitality' and as such they must welcome refugees.
I am reading the Isabel Allende book about the history of Haiti, "Island Beneath the Sea", and was struck by the white plantation owners saying that "the black slaves have never accepted their fate". It got me to thinking about the idea of "accepting your fate". Today, the President of the United States nominated a new Secretary of Labor, one Thomas Perez who NEVER accepted his fate. He is the son of immigrants from the Dominican Republic (next door to Haiti) and put himself through college collecting garbage and working in a warehouse. The president described him as a tireless advocate for the 'American Dream'. Then, in case we needed a refresher, the president spelled it out...he said, "It doesn't matter who you are, where you come from, what your last name is; if you are willing to work hard you can get in on the 'American Dream'. It seems like a prerequisite would be...DON'T accept your fate! This is an 11" x 14" oil on stretched canvas of a recent deportee from the United States.
This 11" x 14" oil on canvas is of a young man who was recently deported from the United States. I keep thinking that we are not paying attention to history as it is unfolding. We see so clearly that we should have done more as Jews were being rounded up in Europe during WWII...we should have helped in Rwanda. We should have the attitude of a character in a book that I am reading (The Postmistress by Sarah Blake) as she realizes what is happening in Europe in the winter of 1941. "Whatever is coming does NOT just come, as you say. It's helped by people willfully looking away. People who develop the habit of swallowing lies rather than the truth. The minute you start thinking something else, then you stopped paying attention---and paying attention is all we've got."
This 20" x 30" oil on canvas depicts one of the growing number of immigrant women in the deportee dining room in Nogales, Mexico. She has tried to run to higher ground (the north)...she was not successful this time...but she will probably keep trying because life depends on it. Today I heard a discussion of the salvific power of myth and folklore in people groups. Specifically, when people pass on descriptions of what happens and what to do in the event of natural disasters, they are passing on life saving information. In the case of a tsunami, certain coastal dwelling people groups know that when the sea rushes out, run for higher ground. If you are tempted to remain, or even spend time inspecting the new landscape, you will perish. In 'economic tsunamis', when jobs, land and food are swept away, people need to get to safe ground.
This 18' x 36" oil on canvas depicts a woman at the Nogales deportee center who had on at least four layers of clothing. It is cold in the shelter because there are only three sides enclosed. I got to wondering if maybe she had on even more layers than I could see...and then I thought what a great metaphor the clothing layers are. All of us, every single person on the planet is composed of so many layers...some that we can see and identify, some that we cannot.