Monday, July 2, 2018

Politics Bulbs, Year Two

 The impressed text is a swirling repetition of "Thoughts and Prayers." 

My intention for the upcoming Art a Day project for Columbia Center for the Arts was to make work for my Resist/Politics/Protest bulbs. I showed this work earlier this year and talked about it at NCECA. I also sold some of the pieces at the various shows. I was fairly happy with the work and felt it was important to keep going in this direction.

The signs say "yes," "no," and "maybe.

I thought making the pieces would feel important and cathartic, similar to last year, but so far I've found making this work to be excruciating. Last year I felt compelled to make this work; this year I am depressed to the point of inaction by the constant barrage of terrible news and my inability to do anything relevant or useful. I find myself questioning the work as I am making it or just after it has been completed. I haven't decided whether I should push through this mental block or give it up entirely.

A brick wall wraps across this piece.
I knew I wanted to make a wall piece and reference the various protests with signs on sticks. There are some images that I have some confidence in as both images and as references to important issues. I also wanted to keep some ambiguity in the work, or at least in some of it, so that viewers will see the issues, but not necessarily a one-sided perspective on it.

My plan is to add a rainbow of colors to the stripes on the face. The original idea was colorblindness, but I also like the idea that it will suggest LGBTQIA issues, and blindness thereto.

However, some of the issues don't lend themselves to multiple interpretations. There are some "issues" that seem blatantly, clearly, unambiguously wrong, hateful, racist, and evil. Strangely, I feel both confident and stupid addressing these issues. No one in their right mind is in favor of children in "cages," but the simple fact that it is so wrong makes me worry that it is a dog whistle being used to rally protestors or distract us from something.

I will add the text "I really don't care do u?" in white underglaze.

How could the first lady wear that coat with that message and not intent to insult, offend, or breed hatred and animosity? I saw a lot of references to it at the immigration protest I attended this weekend and I am having difficulty seeing how the coat could be accidental or unintentional.

The jail/cage will be covered with bars and the bottle and pacifier will be inside.

But the coat, like the image of children in jail, is a strong visual image. I'm confident in the pieces themselves, but have a sort of dread of some of the conversations that might arise from these pieces, or others where I've made more of a clear statement, letting my feelings color the imagery.

The stop sign says "Civility" and there are dead stick figures on the ground behind and under the kneeling figure.

As I write this blog post about these bulbs, I find myself writing about or at least referencing events, controversy and politics much more so than process, materials, and art making. Ironically, in the first draft of this blog post, I felt like curling up in a little ball of despair on the floor instead of finishing this work, but upon revising, I feel like I might have found a way through.

This is a bag of skittles and a can of iced tea. I am really unhappy with the lines in the iced tea.

This Art a Day project asks the artists to write about their work and their thoughts during the project. Maybe my way forward is to include a little biography of each piece in which I address the issues that are so upsetting to me. The work acts differently when each piece is alone, compared to when they are together, and with text, that might add another layer. I also might try to remind myself that not everyone seeing these pieces will know all the backstories, is that possible? I assume everyone knows about skittles and iced tea, about Melania's jacket and calls for civility, but maybe not, or maybe their take is different from what I know.

These hands will be bound with a zip tie after firing.

At the end of last week, I did decide to embrace that feeling of impotence and dread in the work itself, at least a little. This week I plan to try to work some more on these pieces. I went to a protest at my congressman's local office, calling for the reunification of families and there were some things there I saw and heard that I'd like to process for this work, if possible. But first I am going to finish the abstract bulbs because those make me feel ok, even energized, when I make them.

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