Art as Activism

"Anonymous" Suffrage Exhibit Sonoma Museum
“From Suffrage to #Me” Museum of Sonoma County (I volunteered to design the “Anonymous” Gallery)

I am a visual storyteller. The narrative leads me through a range of medium.  I am updating my ABOUT statement during the fifth month of the California COVID-19 shelter-in-place mandate so I am deeply impacted by the devastation of this experience. It is a time warp with no end in sight. For some people, without the schedule of a job or school, the nature of time loses its driving force; isolation is boring. Not for me. Along with most artists, I crave solitude to create. I am accustomed to art-making that follows its own rhythm. I am not unique in my need to create order out of chaos; we all must make sense of our complex world. I do it through the physical process of making art where my the act of choosing materials and arranging marks and objects in a composition integrates with my organization of ideas into a completed tangible statement.

My art pursuit became an emergency with the 2016 election and the Trump administration’s assault on perceived enemies. His “hit” list imperils our democracy, climate change, environmental protections, the rule of law, immigrants, people of color, women, children and anyone who disagrees with him. My visual story telling turns to warning shouts with the appeal to restore order and decency and our constitutional rights.

 


“Host of Plagues”
(left & home page), from my “Women Warriors” series was created when I was first sheltered-at-home. The Black Plague of the mid-1300s swept through Europe because no one understood science; the blame fell on the infidels. The president and his followers politicize the coronavirus rather than embrace science. “The Host of Plagues” has a double thrust: 1) Each plague must have a host to thrive. 2) The human host has the tools of science to conquer this plague. Mask process (clockwise, from lower left) 1. Glue wood bowl face onto background 2. Select materials 3. Paint wood snake, COVID knots, critters 4. Glue objects onto wood shield.

The environment and social issues have been the subject of my art for many years. My hydraulics engineer father taught me to respect the earth. Ecology was a term used in our family long before it was popularized. Science is not a fringe belief but evidence-based reality. (Try defying gravity and see what it gets you: broken limbs.) Both of my parents, from immigrant families who fled Jewish programs in Romania and Russia, taught us to respect our Constitution and Bill of Rights with equality, liberty for all. When we resided in pre-civil rights Florida, my father led me to the back of the bus—the only place where blacks were allowed to sit—because he wanted his young daughter to never forget the wrong and indignity of racism.

 

“Bed of Roses”
(left & home page) expresses my solidarity with Black Lives Matter. The roses and leaves are created from fragments of newspaper articles reporting the protests against racist police brutality. The messages aren’t always visible in the finished rose, so I also created leaves. Mask Process (rows top to bottom/left to right) 1. Paper mâché face coated with paint on newspapers 2. Face on wood shield with wood sword 3. Face coated with paper grocery bag fragments 4. Face on paper bag-covered wood shield with primed sword and butterfly wings  5. Newspaper selections 5. Roses construction 6. Basic pieces for roses  7. Three completed roses

I defined myself as an artist when I was a child from the first finger paintings that seemed to thrill my teacher. I would later balance being a serious artist with teaching and then a graphic design business. As you wind your way through my website, you will see that I use the medium most suitable to create my story: painting, drawing, clay, assemblage, site art.