I am sure Learning to Paint a Swastika is an oversimplification of a particular ideology. I honestly don’t even know if the sentiment is true. Then again, in the words of R. Giuliani, “truth is not truth.” Maybe this painting is little more than a meme, fighting fire with fire, fighting propaganda with propaganda, fighting violence with violence. I like to think I am illustrating some insight into the ignorance of white supremacy, but I fear I am only making a cheap joke that does nothing to advance humanity’s movement toward understanding, compassion and wealth sharing. This statement about this painting expresses my sense of uncertainty about my position as a white, middle class, American man in a world that is exceedingly unjust for most.
During the first months of the pandemic quarantine, I went to the studio each morning because I am lucky enough to have a workspace not shared by others. Then each afternoon my husband and I took a long walk. I photographed lots of places, and after I had accumulated a number of pictures I began to draw them on flat pieces of scrap wood in the studio.
This became a meditation of sorts, and before I knew it there were over 50 drawings. I wanted to record this meditation as an overall experience so I “quilted” the drawings together and did what I would do with a quilt and draped it over a chair.
Concurrent with these walk opportunities was the ongoing awareness of the incompetence of our president and his cronies, and the obvious pain of racial injustice. This has led to an ongoing series called Who’s the Victim? that is a direct reflection of our times. These two pieces (Boot and Guns) need no explanation.
These works (not including Citizen Models) began as abstract pieces made without conscious intention or geometric marks. I then began to use a compass, straight edge and French curve with pencil to overlay geometric forms. I’m interested in the dialog between natural and human designed forms, something we experience daily.
These works, all made in 2020, began to speak to the current dire state of the earth, with environmental, political, social and health systems all in crisis. I let the images evolve according to the signals I was receiving at the time.
Citizen Models piece grew out of a studio decluttering phase. I went through all of my life drawings, threw away most of them and saved bits and pieces of others. Then recently I copied some of the portraits I liked and played around with the idea of collaging them.
This is the first draft of the idea. It seemed to say something about the division and caution we are all experiencing.
Image at top: Sean Hasey, Learning How to Paint a Swastika, acrylic on panel, 30 x 30 in., August 2020 (photo: Julie K. Gray).