Two years ago I began a deep dive into the notion of repair. This came from a personal internal wound and morphed to include domestic and global issues.
Using the image of intentionally ripped jeans (which to me seems irreverent and almost brutal to the fabric), I investigate mending as an intervention, as metaphor, as a call to action; not only to fix material things, but as a desire to repair the fractured parts of ourselves and our ruptured world.
Although I don’t consider myself a “political” artist, there have been times when I am compelled to speak out through my images, and this is such a time. The series Repair was the perfect segue into expressing my fear, frustration and rage at this woeful government, country, and world. The pandemic spurred the inspiration, the need to create work that reflects this moment in time.
COVID-19 has exposed the discrepancies between rich and poor, marginalized communities, inequalities of justice, healthcare and living wages. It has clearly shown the lack of intelligent and compassionate leadership. It has revealed the utter incompetence of the orange-haired dullard who creates nothing but chaos, strife and division. COVID has unveiled a narcissist who doesn’t care about the health and well-being of the people of this country.
Masks have become a toxic issue. Instead of a reassuring message of unity and safety for the collective good, the situation has deteriorated into an “us versus them” bias.
On a personal level, the coronavirus has made me weary. In the beginning, it seemed like we could do anything for two months. That turned into three, and now we’re five months into it with no end in sight. As an artist, the isolation isn’t so bad, since, you know, we are alone a lot. But energetically it feels very different. How we look at each other and our perception of how we fit into this world has changed. Our relationships have changed, what we do has changed, how we connect has changed. I think we feel more vulnerable. Ultimately, reliance on our devices, for good or bad, has become a lifeline. There could be a silver lining: meaningful reforms could be on the horizon, such as the humane treatment of animals and a greater overall consciousness of our environment and the impact we have made on it.
We are figuring it out and I am not as fearful as I was when it began. I have restarted working and teaching in person. Nonetheless, I am left with a perpetual awareness of how distorted life is now. I am truly grateful for where I live, for this state, and to have what I have. I am thankful for Dr. Nirav Shah and the good Governor Janet Mills.
In the midst of this crisis, another wound has erupted. The killing of George Floyd unleashed a multi-generational outcry against the unjust treatment of blacks in this country. The Black Lives Matter movement is so powerful that it has crossed all borders. The global solidarity is poignant in its emotional response. One of the most notable things about the protests is the evident participation of whites. A new, younger generation shows empathy and outrage at the callous and brutal treatment of black citizens. As a direct response, I feel, to this moment, Biden nominated Kamala Harris as vice president. Finally, not just a woman, but a woman of color has attained this honor.
The images I have been painting (using wax sticks, watercolor and gouache) are forming a grid/quilt. This happened organically as my reactions called me into action as a “warrior” artist. Every time I was moved by a story or event, it became an image, a ten-inch square. The ever growing quilt beckons us to repair COVID, immigration, connections, love, justice, climate change, and—on a personal note—my husband’s hip (which has just been repaired)!
In closing, I am in fact an optimist. I truly have hope. I believe in the fundamental charitable and good nature of humanity. Dark forces have gained momentum at this moment, so now is the time to be vigilant and unrelenting in this battle for what is good, true, and honest. We can’t be silenced, afraid, or lulled into apathy. We need to remember illegitimi non carborundum (“Don’t let the bastards wear you down”).
Image at top: Lesia Sochor, Liberty, wax sticks, watercolor, and gouache, 10 x 10 in., 2020.