Detail (above left and right) of Detencion fronteriza
Standing room only.
I think this work needs no explanation. I will say something about the medium. This series is primarily milk paint and chalk paint with some pastel and watercolor. The texture and hues of the milk paint seem to resonate symbolically with the tone of the times, what feels to be the 'twilight of sub humanity,' a downward spiral into hell on earth, the extent of the bloodshed and violence accelerating exponentially given the technology of our weapons of war, destruction and what some believe to be self-defense. We are moving into darker and darker days, and I do not believe it has only to do with the power of media to expose the horrors of man's inhumanity to man.
Milk paint is a simple formula based on the same paint that the earliest homo-sapiens used in the cave paintings many thousands of years ago. Made from lime, pigment and milk casein it is one of the most durable and earthy pigments on the planet. In many respects we seem to be digressing as a species, far beyond that of our oldest ancestors who must have understood the value of community or we would not be here today.
Author and Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison warned that "Language can never ‘pin down’ slavery, genocide, war. Nor should it yearn for the arrogance to be able to do so . . its force, its felicity is in its reach toward the ineffable.” But it seems that we as humans must find a way to express ourselves, to understand, or to purge ourselves of the intensity of our thoughts and feelings. Language does fall short when it comes to the extent of the hell we are either supporting, condoning, or failing in our best efforts to put a stop to, the inhumane treatment of victims of unspeakable violence, begging those who could help, for help, only to be met with more violence. This series is my attempt to express what cannot be said, what so many will not listen to.
The work: 2019
Port of Entry. Milk Paint on Plywood The imagery that the current administration is using to portray migrants, asylum seekers, and the 7 million fleeing disaster due to climate change in 2019 alone, is that of criminals and terrorists. They are met with walls and more violence in the form of harsh and inhumane treatment. We have to ask ourselves, who would leave their home, their family, their roots, their nation, unless there was no hope left? Most, if not all American, are here because of parallel circumstances, one, two, three or four centuries ago. Many were painted in the same disparaging hues. Many experienced the same small minded hate and racism that we are leveling at those waiting, in white, at our borders today. I experienced that same racism as the child of second generation Polish immigrants in Pennsylvannia, in the ostensibly diverse community of Swarthmore, my sixth grade social studies teacher warned me not to tell people I was Polish. I had no idea what he was talking about at that time. It was not until I studied world history in graduate school that I learned that the occupying countries, Germany and Russia, in particular, had a vested interest in spreading propaganda about the poles as drunks and criminals, justifying not only the theft of their land and execution and incarceration of their people, but also reason for the rest of the civilized world to turn a blind eye to genocide.
Blanquear la violencia del muro. Milk Paint, Chalk Paint, Watercolor on Plywood. Whitening the violence of the wall. The "wall" symbolically speaking, represents the walls of justification used by some to hold others captive. Usually, for the purpose of exploiting the victims of violence, sexually or otherwise. These walls are global, not just at the U.S. border. The strategy is universal: political whitewashing.
Detención fronteriza. Mixed Media: Milk Paint, Chalk Paint, Watercolor on Plywood Standing room only. This painting was inspired by the haunting image in a recent photo on the conditions at the Southern border, a room packed with 88 men, their only window to the outside world looks out to a hallway, where many of the men use hand gestures to motion, desperately to reporters and inspectors, how long they have been locked up. The facilities meant for a maximum of 40 adults.
El Infiernito. Milk Paint and Chalk Paint on Plywood El Infiernito lies at the entrance to a section of Nueva Suyapa in Hondoras, where the violence from gangs is so fierce that residents are afraid to step outside the doors of their homes. On April 2, 2018, a 12 year old boy died walking his 5 year old brother home from school, a bullet to the eye, shot in the crossfire between the Los Benjamins and MS-13 gangsters.
President Trump says that sending money to Central America is like flushing it down the toilet. On the contrary, programs vetted and funded by the US have shown to reduce violence exponentially, and in the end, it would be far cheaper and more humane to fund change in Honduras than to spend billions locking up asylum seekers at our borders (Zonia Nazrio, NYTimes 7/28/19).